Jessica Van Den Akker

In January 2019, Jessica Van Den Akker was appointed treasurer of AME. “My role consists of supporting the controller and overseeing our quarterly reports and ongoing treasury needs, such as cash and short term investment,” she says. “In short, making sure management stays on budget and on track.”

Van Den Akker says she is still getting up to speed in the voluntary position. “I have big shoes to fill, as Jim Gray was there for over a decade before me,” she says. The new treasurer is no stranger to the mineral exploration industry.

“I work for Fiore Management and Advisory Corp., which works with the capital markets, primarily in the resource sector, as well as other venture industries, including technology and entertainment,” Van Den Akker says.

“The resource industry is Vancouver’s and Canada’s bread and butter and it’s what we have expertise in. We look for good opportunities in capital markets and occasionally this leads us into other industries.”

In her position with Fiore, Van Den Akker acts as the chief financial officer of Klondike Gold Corp, Sandspring Resources Ltd, Vanadian Energy Corporation and Rusoro Mining Ltd.

The new AME treasurer has been active in the mineral exploration industry for 15 years. “I spent 10 years as an auditor at Davidson and Company, one of Canada’s largest auditors of venture companies, where I worked primarily with junior exploration companies,” she says. “Then I went to the other side and now I work in industry.” While working in the junior exploration business, Van Den Akker says she met “a lot of cool people who have been involved with AME.” “One of them reached out to me when the opening for treasurer came up and I jumped at the opportunity,” she says. “It’s been really interesting to look at the industry differently from a single company or as a service provider.”

Van Den Akker says the biggest challenge facing the junior mining industry in B.C. today is uncertainty. “Exploration can certainly be a gamble,” she says. “There are many uncertainties that mineral explorers face: commodity prices, project timing, permitting, community relations, supply costs and taxation. “Its pretty impressive that we all go out and take on this gamble day after day, when all these factors are constantly changing. Its challenging and time-consuming to be trying to prioritize uncertainties and manage the risks around them with so much constant change.” Van Den Akker says AME can help reduce uncertainty and encourage long term stability of the industry by promoting such public policy initiatives as tax incentives and permitting processes that help association members manage their businesses.

She is therefore pleased that in January 2019 the provincial government announced it was making the B.C. Mining Flow-Through Share (BCMFTS) tax credit and the B.C. Mining Exploration Tax Credit (BCMETC) permanent incentives to support investment. The BCMFTS tax credit allows individuals who invest in flow-through shares to claim a non-refundable tax credit of 20 per cent of their flow-through mining expenditures in B.C. Eligible B.C. flow-through mining expenditures are specific exploration expenses incurred after July 30, 2001, and renounced by a corporation issuing the flow-through shares. The tax credit is non-refundable. Any unused credit at the end of a tax year may be carried back three years or forward 10 years.

The BCMETC is for corporations that are active members of partnerships conducting grassroots mineral exploration in B.C. The credit applies to exploration for all base and precious metals, coal and some industrial minerals. Qualified mining exploration expenses may include expenses incurred in the course of prospecting, carrying out geological surveys, drilling, trenching, digging test pits and preliminary sampling.

The credit is calculated as 20 per cent of qualified mining exploration expenses less the amount of any assistance received or receivable. Assistance includes reimbursements a taxpayer has received or is entitled to receive, as well as grants, subsidies, rebates and forgivable loans. Making BCMFTS and BCMETC permanent were two of the recommendations of the B.C. Mining Jobs Task Force, of which AME was a member, to boost the mining sector.

In the addition to the tax credits, the government is committing $1 million to work with industry to develop a mining innovation road map, and an additional $1 million to continue and expand the Regional Mining Alliance, which promotes mineral exploration, Indigenous partnerships and mining in B.C.