With commodity prices rising, investment and optimism in B.C.’s mineral exploration sector rebounded in 2017. While companies with new grassroots discoveries and those with de risked assets benefited most from this nascent recovery, there are promising signs for a more sustained upturn as we head into 2018.

Exploration activity continues to be high in northwest B.C., with discoveries like Garibaldi Resources’ E&L nickel-copper project. But 2017 also brought new interest in areas of the province that have not seen recent activity, as well as investment by companies that have not traditionally been active in B.C. On Vancouver Island, for instance, Nyrstar is planning to reopen the Myra Falls copper-lead-zinc mine, while other private interests are renewing the search for gold in well-known camps such as Zeballos.

Following its purchase of Thompson Creek Minerals and its Mount Milligan Mine in late 2016, new player Centerra Gold is expanding its interests in north-central B.C. This includes a recently announced acquisition of AuRico Metals – owner of the Kemess Underground gold-copper project and an advanced exploration play at Kemess East. These examples indicate that investment is occurring at all stages of the mineral development cycle, which bodes very well for our industry over the longer term. See “Exploration in British Columbia” in this issue for more information about exploration activity in B.C. this year. (A full accounting of 2017 statistics as compiled by AME, EY (Ernst & Young) and the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (MEMPR) will be released at Roundup 2018 and over the coming months.)

Over the past year, AME has been hard at work supporting our members and preparing for what we believe will be a sustained period of growth. Examples of our work include the following:

  • AME took a lead role, alongside the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, in ensuring the renewal of the federal mineral exploration tax credit program.
  • AME was active in ensuring that investments in stakeholder/Aboriginal consultation and environmental studies are considered admissible expenditures under provincial as well as federal tax law.
  • Prior to and following the 2017 provincial election, AME worked with all major parties to advance tax incentives that benefit mineral exploration, gaining pledges for continued support of the B.C. mining exploration tax credit and B.C. mining flow-through share programs.
  • AME secured annual exemptions from provincial water licensing and fees for its members, and continues to advocate for a permanent exemption.
  • AME is working to achieve greater certainty for exploration companies active in regions of the province with caribou management or other specialized land-use plans.
  • AME recently facilitated a workshop for industry and staff from three B.C. ministries – MEMPR; the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation – to improve understanding of the Notice of Work permitting process and to identify next steps to enhance process consistency and predictability. Followup workshops are planned with regulators, First Nations and industry throughout the province.
  • AME worked closely with government to ensure the voice of B.C. explorers is heard on a range of other matters – from environmental assessment, to review of the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia, to development of B.C.-Alaska transboundary agreements.

AME has also provided opportunities for its members to gain new insights on raising capital. At the AME Speaker Series event on October 4, industry experts Michael Gray, Zara Boldt, Bart Melek and Rosie Moore gave practical recommendations for junior companies to engage investors and attract investment. You can read some of their sage advice in this issue.

It takes a continued, collaborative effort to create more certainty for our industry, to secure sustained funding for geoscience programs, and to promote new, efficient and cost effective ways to raise capital. Each is an important element in the discovery and development of new mineral deposits.

As an association, we represent the interests of our members and stakeholders, so we need to hear from you. Please take a moment at Roundup 2018 to participate in our survey so your needs and views can be considered in the development of AME’s Strategic Plan and Annual Plan.

Over the past two years, I have had the privilege to serve as Chair of AME’s Board of Directors and work with AME staff and industry colleagues to advance the initiatives described above and others on behalf of you, our members. I am proud of the work we’ve done together. I would like to thank my Executive and Board colleagues, our many volunteers and our staff for their unflagging efforts to support our industry through lean times and to prepare it for the good times to come.

I invite everyone to join us at Roundup 2018: “New Generation of Discovery.” I look forward to seeing you there.