Welcome to the summer issue of Mineral Exploration. The year 2017 marks the 105th anniversary of AME – an impressive milestone, but what is far more important is the role that our association has played in the province since its foundation in 1912.
Back in 1912, there was no single centre for the mineral exploration industry in British Columbia – much less globally. Although Vancouver was a booming city of 115,000 people, it was a relatively new financial centre; Spokane, Washington, attracted mining deals from the Kootenays since a stock exchange was set up there in 1897, nine years earlier than in Vancouver. A glance through the minister of mines’ annual report for that year shows that companies active in the province were based in Victoria, Vancouver, Spokane, Montreal and London, among other places. A group of individuals, led by mining engineer Robert Rist Hedley, saw the clear need for a reliable organization to promote mineral exploration and development in B.C., and the Chamber of Mines was born.
The following year, the nascent association appointed Lytton Shatford, MLA for Similkameen, as president to work closely with Richard McBride, who served as both premier and minister of mines. Over the years, AME has had relationships with no fewer than 37 ministers responsible for mining.
Throughout this time, AME has been privileged to have steady leadership – in addition to its volunteer Executive and committees, the Association has been served by a full-time chief executive officer since founding member Frank Woodside became manager in 1929. Over time, there have been various approaches to leadership, adjustments to the organization and changes in the industry. While many of the issues AME faces have not changed, I would suggest that their complexity has increased and, as such, the Association will need to focus on the priority matters that will best serve our membership in B.C. and farther afield.
It is the collaboration between AME’s volunteers and staff, in concert with its leadership, that have led to many contributions to the industry. Just a few examples include:
- Roundup: One of the world’s premier technical conferences, Roundup provides a timely showcase of academic and government fieldwork and research as well as company progress on exploration of deposits in B.C. and around the world.
- Resource revenue sharing: B.C. was a leader in introducing revenue sharing with Aboriginal communities on mining projects, and AME played a strong role in front-line discussions with government to advance this initiative.
- Geoscience BC: AME was a key supporter of the initiative to create this distinctive research organization.
Gavin C. Dirom became president and CEO in 2008, and for 8.5 years lent his steady guidance and balanced direction to AME. As the article by Kylie Williams on p. 22 demonstrates, Gavin was an active and effective liaison between members and government. He championed the B.C.-based mineral exploration industry and its more than 4,000 members through two downturns as well as one of the busiest times on record – including 2012, when exploration spending in the province reached $681 million and attendance at Mineral Exploration Roundup hit 8,320. Gavin developed much closer relationships between AME and the Mining Association of BC, and nurtured ties with regional exploration groups throughout the province. Gavin’s ability to build and maintain ties with various government officials, members and stakeholders has helped give AME a credible voice as an association.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and members of AME, I sincerely thank Gavin for his service and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
I am also very pleased to welcome Edie Thome as AME’s new president and CEO (see the sidebar to learn more about Edie). We look forward to her approach as AME continues to work with First Nations, local communities and government to ensure mineral discoveries can be made, advanced and developed into new mines, providing important economic opportunities here in B.C. and around the world.
Edie will certainly play a key role as AME engages with the new government in Victoria. This spring, AME joined forces with the Mining Association of BC and the Mining Suppliers Association of B.C. on the Vote Mining campaign to increase public awareness of the political candidates as well as the contributions of the mineral exploration and mining sector and the issues it faces. Candidates from the BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Greens and other political parties submitted platforms on the “Where They Stand” page of votemining.ca. Many also took the time to respond to individuals who used the “Take Action” tool of the website to ask candidates individually about their views related to mineral exploration and mining. As an industry, we must keep this momentum of advocacy and awareness going. I encourage you to continue to engage with elected officials and members of the public in discussions on mineral exploration, and to report your concerns and your successes to the AME directors and staff so that we can work together to create a positive environment for our industry over the long term.
Finally, as summer is upon us, I hope that you have a safe and successful field season!