As Mining Week takes place in B.C. from May 13-21, 2007, it is a great time to reflect on the enormous benefits that mining provides to communities throughout British Columbia.
It?s important to remember the positive difference that the products of mining make in our everyday lives. The computers and cell phones that help us communicate. The buses, bikes, cars and planes that help us get around.
The knife and fork on your dinner table. The shovel that digs your garden or the scissors that cut your child?s hair. So many of the things we take for granted all start with mining.
There are more than 10,000 direct jobs in mining in the province and these jobs pay the highest average wage in B.C. at more than $94,000 per year.
When indirect jobs are included, the mining sector provides more than 28,000 jobs for British Columbians.
What many people may not be aware of is that the almost $10 billion mining industry in B.C. generates this wealth in an area that represents less than
0.03 percent of the province?s land base. That?s less than 28,000 hectares.
This is an extraordinary contribution from an area about the size of one mid-size town.
When we look around the province at the contributions made to B.C. from mining, it is clear that the public benefits of any given mine far outweigh the costs. The mining industry?s approach is to engage honestly, openly and transparently with all communities of interest, and we clearly demonstrate our commitment to the environment.
Today?s mining sector is continually working to update and improve environmental protection measures. Our industry contributes to the advancement of the scientific understanding of mining?s effect on the environment, as well as to the development of technology that will help minimize environmental impacts.
We also know that meaningful engagement with B.C.?s First Nations? communities is a cornerstone of mining today. Indeed, it is clear that projects will not be able to proceed unless there is awareness and support of the communities in which they interact.
Mining today represents an extraordinary opportunity for First Nations communities to achieve the economic self-sufficiency they desire and deserve. For the large number of young people in school today, mining holds the hope of gaining new skills and experience and realizing their potential.
In fact, mining is the largest private sector employer of First Nations in Canada.
The success of the mining industry also provides benefits to all British Columbians by contributing $700 million each year in direct taxation, fees and royalties to the provincial government. This revenue from mining helps to pay for the important social programs and services-such as health care, social services and education-that British Columbians count on.
As we celebrate Mining Week, some 35 mining projects in British Columbia have moved beyond the exploration stage. Many are in permitting or environmental assessment processes. If even just six to eight of these mines goes ahead in the next few years we will see almost $10 billion in additional capital investment in B.C., 10,000 new jobs and an additional $1 billion in revenue to government.?
Mining Week is a time to recognize not just the benefits mining provides today, but also the potential opportunities it holds for the future.
Michael McPhie is the President and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC). The MABC speaks on behalf of mineral producers and advanced development companies involved in the exploration, development and smelting of minerals in British Columbia.