To all of you who attended and made our 37th annual AME Roundup conference a great success, thank you. The hard work and dedication of our volunteers is humbling to witness, we truly can not execute the conference to the calibre that we do, without our volunteers and members. This year, we welcomed 6,190 attendees at the Vancouver Convention Centre on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples. British Columbia was well represented with presentations on many of the exploration projects that are advancing across the province, the high quality service and supply companies that call BC home, and the fantastic people from the geologists, to cooks and politicians that work to advance mineral exploration in BC, everyday. We were also pleased to welcome members and leaders from across the country and from 38 other countries around the world. I was thrilled to see to people from all facets of mineral exploration sharing their stories and experiences with the next generation including the First Nation Youth from the Northwest in the Gathering Place, the students in the MineralsEd program, and the university students who are our future professionals. In addition, the presentations in the technical sessions and short courses were exceptional and we thank all of those presenting and attending for your contributions in creating such a high value conference.
We are grateful to our patron sponsor, Teck Resources Limited., for their continued support of Roundup and once again championing the Reconciliation Breakfast showing their commitment to the industry through leadership, collaboration and innovation. We also wish to thank the many companies who also sponsored and exhibited at the conference this year – a full list of sponsors is available on page 10.
At Roundup 2020, we convened our 108th annual general meeting, and announced our new Board of Directors. Rob McLeod was appointed as Chair the AME Board for a second year and Tara Hassan and Jill Tsolinas were appointed as our 2020 Vice Chairs. A heartfelt thank you to them and all of our Board members for their continued service and to the outgoing directors, Diane Nicholson, ‘Lyn Anglin and Corinne McKay, who each brought commitment, passion and leadership to the industry and the staff at AME through their contributions at the Board. We are proud to present this year’s Board of Directors on our website at <i>amebc.ca/board</i> who once again are a diverse and inclusive group.
B.C.’s mineral exploration sector is experiencing a slow but steady rebound. After two years of growth marking a 62% increase in annual exploration spend between 2016 and 2018, we saw a very slight decline in 2019, down $3.7 million to $327.7 million total exploration spend in the province. We did, however, see a significant increase in total exploration spend in the Northwest region, and a slight decrease in the number of claims staked in 2019 compared to 2018. We look forward to releasing the full 2019 Exploration Survey and Report with our partners EY and the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources at PDAC 2020.
Thank you to everyone who contributed throughout the consultation processes leading up to the changes and implementation to the new Water Sustainability and Environmental Assessment Acts. Thank you also to government for being open to and appreciative of feedback from AME and our members, particularly given the need to balance the needs and interests of industry, Indigenous groups, environmental groups and local concerned citizens.
Since January 2020 the permanent allowance for mineral exploration activities under the Water Sustainability has been in effect. We are pleased that the legislation now allows for the diversion and use of water for camps of up to 20 people and also provided clarity for activities that do not require a Notice of Work permit under section 10 of the Mines Act. Also, the new Environmental Assessment Act is now in effect. Guidance documents and implementation are being phased in and we will continue to engage with government as these documents are developed.
In addition, AME continues advocacy and engagement on improving permitting and Notice of Work processes, including encouraging appropriate resourcing for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
As we look forward in 2020, we will build on the relationships forged and reinforced at Roundup 2020 and will continue to work on our members’ behalf as we complete our 2020 Annual Work Plan. We will be working with our colleagues on the Mining Jobs Task Force to implement further actions and we look forward to you beginning to see those benefits as you prepare for another busy field season.
We have updated and launched AME’s Guiding Principles for members. They set out a standard of practices in four categories Environmental Stewardship; Indigenous Relations; Social Responsibility and Health and Safety. They reviewed by members were approved by the Board in November 2019. They can now be found on AME’s website.
Spring is a time of new beginnings and renewed relationships. Starting with Rock Talks in Smithers and PDAC in Toronto, AME will be on the road this spring at regional exploration conferences such as Kamloops Exploration Group and Minerals North, and local government conferences throughout the province, to meet with our members, indigenous communities and elected government officials. We will also be hosting our annual safety workshops (visit amebc.ca to register), the second annual MinEx Talks event (visit ameba.ca to register), and conducting our annual environment, health and safety survey in conjunction with PDAC. I encourage all companies active in or directly supporting mineral exploration to fill out the survey at <i>explorationsurvey.ca</i>. And of course, it wouldn’t be spring without our annual golf tournament scheduled on May 28, 2020. We look forward to seeing you there!
From all of us at AME, we wish you a productive spring – wherever your work and travels take you. Happy Exploring.