Exploring the rugged and isolated sections of the Cordillera with dreams of discovery of metals and minerals is a wonderful and challenging career that many of us have been blessed to experience. Despite our emphasis on health and safety as our highest priority, the business is not without risk; this past summer, our industry lost a young, bright light when ATAC’s vice-president of exploration, Julia Lane, passed in a light airplane crash along with pilot Shawn Kitchen. Lane’s technical ability and enthusiasm touched many in the B.C. and Yukon exploration communities. On behalf of the AME Board of Directors, we send our deepest condolences to her family, many friends and colleagues.
Growing up in Stewart, B.C., in the 1980s and throughout British Columbia as a junior geologist in the 1990s, I got the sense accidents and fatalities were unfortunately much more common on mineral exploration projects and at mining operations than they are now. If there has ever been a single advocate for health and safety in northern B.C., who helped guide our industry towards best practices while maintaining and understanding that we still need to get the job done, it has been veteran mines inspector Doug Flynn. I hope you all take the time to read Flynn’s profile on page 61 of this edition of the Mineral Exploration magazine.
Over the past four decades, whether it was investigating alleged murders from a sabotaged powder magazine in the late 1980s to surprise inspections and testing batteries in smoke detectors of tiny exploration camps, Flynn has been a fixture in compliance and enforcement in the north. Even during the past summer, along with our mutual friend from Stewart, veteran underground miner David Green, Doug wouldn’t hesitate to investigate and dispose of decades-old powder stashes in century-old underground workings. There’s no bigger motivation for exploration crews to make sure everything is in order at any remote camp, drill or project than knowing Doug Flynn is in the area and will pop by for an inspection!With the new Compliance and Enforcement branch of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in place, I can think of no better individual as a model of balancing safety, knowledge,experience and practicality for inspectors. I hope the Ministry takes advantage of Flynn’s many years on the job.
From Atlin to Nelson, from Merritt to Mackenzie, B.C. had another exciting year of mineral exploration, development, investment and discovery, buoyed by renewed investor confidence and with large credit to the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA) that has been actively marketing our province at important mining conferences. Multinationals such as Newcrest Mining Limited investing in the Red Chris operation, Osisko Gold Royalties purchasing Barkerville Gold Mines and Newmont Goldcorp committing to significant expenditures at the rich Galore Creek copper-gold deposit have shown that the majors have theconfidence to invest and appreciate the certainty of the mineralexploration and mining sector in British Columbia. Greenfielddiscoveries, such as Westhaven’s high-grade epithermal gold-silver veins in the southern interior, have demonstrated that there is much more to be discovered in our province.
Junior explorers have struggled through challenging markets to finance small exploration programs in B.C.; AME is continuing to lobby both the federal and provincialgovernments to ensure that our junior members have the access tocapital that is required to fund the discovery and advancement of the next generation of mines in B.C.
On a personal note, over the past few years I have had the opportunity to build friendships and professional relationships with many citizens of the Nisga’a Nation through several exploration programs innorthwest B.C. Watching my friends such as Kim Azak, Troy Lincoln and Todd Ducharme as well as dozens of others learn about mineralexploration and mining while on the job has been a fantasticexperience. Mentored by the senior members of my crew such as David Green and Marilyne Lacasse, I’ve watched as they are building their own ambitions to be miners, drillers, diesel mechanics, geologists and CEOs.
Industry, governments, educators and First Nations need to do more to mentor and educate these ambitious rural workers, giving them the same opportunities and dreams that I was blessed to have early in my mineral exploration career.
I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know that a new foundation was created in Julia’s name. The Julia Lane Foundation was created to continue her passion to encourage young professionals. Its primary intent is to assist and encourage future generations to pursue advanced education in the sciences. Grants made by the foundation will primarily go towards students pursuing degrees in earth sciences or related programs. For more information visit https://rjcfoundation.akaraisin.com/ui/JuliaLaneFoundation. Please share this among your colleagues.
Further, Women in Mining BC (WIMBC) created an award in honour of Julia’s memory and recognition of her impact on the industry, the Julia Lane Rising Star Award. This award celebrates women who are “rising stars” in the mining industry – both promising individuals who are starting out their careers and those in the middle of their careers who are starting on a journey that will create positive legacies and leading by example.