The Xinhua News Agency based in China recently released two photos of children at a community fair watching a simulated volcanic eruption and learning about laboratory techniques. What was unusual about these photos, perhaps, was that they were not taken in China – they were taken at the BC Mining Week Community Fair co-hosted by MineralsEd and AME BC. This outreach event provides more than a chance for Vancouver schoolchildren and members of the public to learn about the uses of metals and minerals; this coverage by an overseas news agency also symbolically demonstrates the importance of B.C. in a global economy.

The BC Mining Week Community Fair photographs that appeared in China are symbolic of a B.C. more prominent on the global stage.

John Kenneth Galbraith, in his 1967 book, The New Industrial State, defined a new era of global consumption driven by American and, by extension, multi-national corporations. Galbraith observed the reality that “the individual serves the industrial system not by supplying it with savings and the resulting capital; he serves it by consuming its products.” What we have experienced over the past 50 years is that this pattern is in place, but that an increase in global consumption is not currently being powered by venture capital, which is often scarce – as we have seen in the mineral exploration and development sector. However, as much as these are difficult times for the industry, new methods of finance will – and must – emerge to develop the metals and mineral resources that an increasingly affluent global society will need.

The BC Mining Week Community Fair photographs that appeared in China are symbolic of a B.C. more prominent on the global stage. The mineral deposits in northwestern B.C. that AME BC members call the Golden Triangle are located near the province’s boundary with Alaska, and this has resulted in some calls for a joint environmental review of projects in the region. The B.C. government and AME BC have pointed out that co-operation with the government of Alaska – and, by extension, its citizens – does occur. We hope that increased dialogue between British Columbians and Alaskans will result in an understanding that these projects can appropriately proceed to development, and an increased understanding of the commonalities between the two jurisdictions where natural resources are developed safely and responsibly to the benefit of all.

We have learned that although commodity prices have decreased, the vitality of B.C.’s mineral exploration and mining sector continues. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of the mining industry concluded that gross mining revenues were $8.2 billion in 2014, down only slightly from $8.5 billion in 2013. This is proof that, with increased copper production from mines such as New Afton and Mount Milligan, our industry is resilient and will emerge from the current downturn stronger than ever. There is a future for mining in B.C., and with that comes a need to discover, explore and develop new deposits to provide the metals and minerals that modern society needs. However, we must remain vigilant to the challenges that face our industry, and I remain confident that AME BC – with the support of my fellow board members and our volunteer committee members, whose extensive expertise ranges from Aboriginal relations and land access to environment, engineering, science, and health and safety – will guide our B.C.-based mineral exploration and development sector through what challenging times remain.