President & CEO’s Message
Gavin C. Dirom M.Sc., P. Ag. President & CEO, AME
As perhaps a sign of better times ahead, base metals prices at the end of the third quarter in 2012 were up about 12 per cent from the end of the last quarter. Copper, for instance, jumped from about $3.30 (U.S.) per pound in August to above $3.80 (U.S.) in September. While overall activity in the B.C. mineral exploration and development sector appears to be down as compared with last year’s record-breaking pace and expenditures of $463 million, there are numerous advanced exploration projects in B.C., particularly copper, gold and coal projects, that are forging ahead. So even with challenging global economic conditions facing the junior exploration sector, B.C. continues to attract significant investment with projects such as New Gold’s Blackwater, Pretium Resources’ Brucejack and Seabridge Gold’s KSM leading the way. As an example of a successful development over the last quarter, New Gold opened their New Afton underground copper-gold-silver mine located near Kamloops, B.C. While production began on June 28, they held an opening day on September 17 and New Gold is now reporting throughput of 11,000 tonnes per day.
Over the next ten years, there is potential for as many as 30 more mining projects to be developed in B.C., representing up to $30 billion in capital investment. According to a recent Mining Industry Human Resources Council report, even under baseline economic conditions, the B.C. mineral exploration and development industry is forecast to need almost 4,000 highly skilled and technically trained workers between 2012 and 2022 due to a large number of pending retirements. It’s clear that mineral exploration and development are foundational economic drivers in B.C., spurring responsible regional development, creating family sustaining jobs, enhancing infrastructure and increasing government revenue to offset B.C.’s health care and education costs.
But as British Columbians competing in a global economy with other mineral-rich jurisdictions we must not rest on our laurels. Members of AME are active in over 100 countries around the world and many exploration or mining companies that have their head offices located here are not currently exploring in the province. In fact, sixty per cent of all the Canadian exploration companies are based in B.C. and these companies are responsible for the largest share of exploration spending in Canada, the United States, South America, Central America, Europe and Africa. The B.C.-based industry is truly international in scope and with expertise in technical, legal, accounting and financial matters, British Columbia is renowned as the global centre for mineral exploration and development. No matter the jurisdiction, to attract and sustain high levels of investment, an “open for business” culture must be nurtured, strategic investments made and public policies implemented in a consistent and transparent manner that enable responsible mineral exploration and development.
The recent decision to not issue an Environmental Assessment Certificate to Pacific Booker Minerals for their Morrison copper-gold mine project, however, does not appear to represent a science-based decision making process that was transparent, logical or clear. Going forward, for the sake of due process and in the spirit of not losing the opportunity to develop this copper-gold deposit, we are hopeful that the company, First Nations, B.C. government and federal government can work together to resolve this matter in a timely and reasonable manner.
In support of improving and implementing sound public policy, AME is making the following budget and policy recommendations to the B.C. government in advance of the May 2013 provincial election:
- Extend the B.C. Mining Flow-Through Share (BC MFTS) Tax Credit to December 31, 2016 and consider making it permanent to encourage companies to explore for more in British Columbia;
- Re-affirm and communicate the two-zone land use and access policy and the security of the mineral tenure that is acquired in B.C.;
- Publicly monitor, track and report out on the statistics regarding B.C.’s actual land use and access, including mineral exploration and mining;
- Assess the lost mineral development potential and socio-economic impacts of any proposed land use changes before sterilizing potentially mineral-rich lands;
- Open up no registration areas (where no claims are currently allowed) to compensate for creating more protected or restricted-use lands;
- Reduce the permit backlog and work to achieve an average 60-day turnaround for Notice of Work permit applications;
- Provide the responsible permitting ministries and agencies with the resources they need to address First Nations consultation requirements in a timely manner; and
- Support aboriginal community capacity building through a $1 million commitment to the BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association.
Last quarter, AME actively promoted the mineral exploration and development sector in B.C. by undertaking outreach to members, Aboriginal communities, the public and government. We held numerous meetings with regional exploration groups and government officials on key policy issues and hosted a number of events for AME’s members, such as the Corporate Member Mixer, Old-Timer’s Summer Luncheon and the Volunteer Appreciation event. AME also issued its 100-year anniversary commemorative book, Into the Mountains, authored by the late Chuck Davis. Our centennial year as an association will culminate with a special 100th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver on November 27, 2012. Tickets are on sale now, see the website for more details.
And with excitement, AME’s Roundup Organizing Committee has been actively preparing for the annual Mineral Exploration Roundup, the world’s premier technical mineral exploration conference to be held in Vancouver at the Westin Bayshore from January 28 to 31, 2013. The theme of our 30th annual conference is “Resources for Life: Digging Deeper”. Please see the webpage for more details about Roundup and registration.
On behalf of the staff and board of AME, I thank the hundreds of volunteers and almost 5,000 members of the Association for their valuable support and contributions in making AME one of the best industry advocacy associations for mineral exploration and development in the world. If you are not already a member, I encourage you to visit the Association’s website at www.amebc.ca and sign up to be a member of AME at your next opportunity.
Finally, please remember to have a safe day, every day, wherever this message finds you!
Gavin C. Dirom, M.Sc., P. Ag.
President & CEO
Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia