The third quarter of 2010 was very busy for AME BC members and staff indeed! While operating challenges still remain in British Columbia, there are signs of increased mineral exploration activity with higher drill program expenditures, numerous joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions. Most indicators are pointing to 2010 as the turnaround year for BC mineral exploration and development with spending estimates ranging from $250-300 million, versus the $154 million recorded last year. The overall economy in British Columbia and Canada, however, is slowing from the strong growth we experienced in late 2009 and the first two quarters of 2010. The Bank of Canada is stating national economic growth was at 1.6% for Q3, down from the expected 2.8%. Nonetheless, it’s the mineral exploration and development sectors, buoyed by record commodity prices for gold (over $1300/oz) and copper (over $3.50/lb) that are leading the economic recovery.
This reality was emphasized recently during Premier Gordon Campbell’s speech at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler on October 1. The Premier underscored the foundational role that the mineral exploration and mining sector plays in British Columbia and the importance of maintaining resource roads, building infrastructure, and reforming the federal-provincial environmental assessment process. He also expressed his full support for Taseko’s Prosperity Mine project in the south Cariboo and for building the Northwest Transmission Line in the “Golden Triangle” area of northwest BC.
As lobbyists for the sector, AME BC continues to work with Minister Randy Hawes and Minister Bill Bennett, among many others in the BC government, on critical issues such as exploration project permitting and having access to lands open for mineral exploration. AME BC continues to advocate, on behalf of its members, for the two-zone land use model so that future land use decisions actually bring increased certainty. We are working tirelessly to help protect mineral tenures, enhance security and ensure a fair market compensation process in the event mineral tenures are expropriated. As well, we are seeking public investments in geoscience; commensurate funding of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; and aboriginal capacity building to ensure that mineral exploration and mining benefit all citizens of the province.
Federally, while AME BC is very supportive of the principles of corporate social responsibility, we remain strongly opposed to Bill C-300 which, if passed, will needlessly harm BC’s and Canada’s mineral exploration and mining companies working abroad. Furthermore, we continue to advocate for true reform of the Canadian environmental assessment process necessary to improve effectiveness, reduce costs and provide greater certainty for mineral explorers and developers. Recently, the Senate approved amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) that were contained in the Jobs and Economic Growth Act (Bill C-9). The amendments to the CEAA enable the federal Minister of the Environment to focus the scope of a project subject to assessment on one or more components of the project. While there are certainly more changes necessary to the CEAA, some important progress has been made and finally significant attention is being paid to address the problems and truly improve the process.
Throughout the summer, we engaged with AME BC members and facilitated broader industry discussions with BC’s regional exploration groups regarding government’s proposed amendments to the Mineral Tenure Act Regulations. These amendments are following extensive consultations held in 2008 regarding a review of the mineral title acquisition and maintenance process. As a result of this review, a new fee structure and revised annual exploration work requirements are being proposed by government to ensure effective exploration and development of the province’s mineral resources.
Also during the third quarter of 2010, task force members worked to draft geoscience guiding principles. AME BC’s set of guiding principles are improving our collective ability to communicate with, and lead, the industry, take principled positions on various issues, develop awareness and create positive change. In September, AME BC’s Board of Directors reviewed and approved AME BC’s inaugural set of geoscience guiding principles to add to the other five sets of guiding principles that have been developed in the key policy areas of health and safety, uranium and thorium exploration, land use, aboriginal relations and the environment.
AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup, the world’s premier technical mineral exploration conference, celebrates its 28th year in 2011. With over 6,000 local and international delegates expected, the Roundup Organizing Committee and support staff have been actively preparing for the event that takes place in Vancouver at the beautiful Westin Bayshore from January 24-27, 2011. This year’s theme, “Exploring Today for Tomorrow’s Resources,” emphasizes the importance and relevance of the industry to everyone. World renowned experts from across the mineral exploration and mining sector will be at Roundup to share new information on the latest Canadian and global discoveries, commodity trends, health and safety issues, sustainability, geosciences, and project permitting. Registration for Roundup 2011 is now open. Please visit www.amebc.ca/roundup for more details.
As part of the BC Mineral Exploration and Mining Human Resources task force, AME BC will be helping to launch the “Explore for More British Columbia” initiative this year, complete with brochures, videos and role models to encourage youth, women, aboriginals and new Canadians to choose mineral exploration and mining careers. Now is the time to explore for more in British Columbia.
On behalf of the staff and board of AME BC, I thank all the volunteers and members of the Association for their efforts to build a stronger, more unified industry in 2010. No matter where you are exploring in the world, I wish you well in your prospects as we enjoy the revival of mineral exploration and development in BC. Enjoy the fall season, and I look forward to seeing you in Vancouver at Mineral Exploration Roundup 2011! Have a safe day, every day.
Gavin C. Dirom, M.Sc., P. Ag.
President & CEO, AME BC
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Gavin C. Dirom
M.Sc., P. Ag.
President & CEO,