By George

Have you noticed? Many of the young folk are back. Different faces but nearly all driving newer versions of the pickup truck so easily recognized in the early 1980?s with the buggy whips attached so they could go on the mine sites with ease ( we may have left them behind in this, year of our Lord, 2006, but there are a few of them still around). Never was privileged to have one attached to my car.

So, what are we reminded of? If the Orient had not wanted millions of tonnes of the coal we had so abundantly left sitting around for some entrepreneur to come and dig, this too would have been allowed to lie in pristine quietude for the moose, deer, and other denizens of the forest to inhabit and multiply with only a distant sound of a hunter, or fisherman plying his trade. (If I had a sense of the bards of yesterday I might quote a bit of poetry like Abou Ben Adham (Spelling?) who awoke one night from a deep dream of peace–but as I have failed miserably to master any of the fine arts — having graduated as a Mechanical Engineer for heaven?s sake! It is amazing I even enjoy the wonders of nature!)

Sorry, drifted off target again! You will know that, prior to the Japanese needing millions of tonnes of coal to keep their steel manufacturing going at full blast, few of us mortals living at the edge of the Rockies, thought coal did anything except make the boilers of trains make steam so the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert could rise to prominence with the other industrial giants from the east. A couple of billion dollars later, Tumbler Ridge appeared on the scene with the expressed approval of the exporters of metallurgical coal! Is it not unfortunate that, instead of having Whistler as the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, we could have had a thriving industry making steel in Squamish! Sometimes the ways of man are difficult to understand!

You will know that Dave Barrett, an NDP premier in this province, believed in our ability to make steel and that it could be done with the co-operation of some forward thinking industrialists in this country. Alas, if it had been our liberal friends who dreamed big, we might have a thriving steel industry right here in British Columbia!

Maybe, when we stop kneeling to our cousins down South, and standing on the principles of fair play, we will rise and demand our place in the sun. (You just knew I could not just be a nice guy, didn?t you.)

Anyhow, as this is Mining Week, and once more COAL is our GOAL. For a short while, after the turn of the century, King Gething mined coal near Hudson?s Hope to fuel our trains, and heat a few residences, so we knew the stuff was there, but not many people understood the vast quantities all along the Rocky Mountains, or the tremendous value of the carbon deposits (give it a few million more years and it will just turn in to diamonds!). In the beginning of this town some geologists thought, without discovering any new deposits, by the time Quintette and Bullmoose had dug for fifteen years, turning out millions of tonnes per year, the stock of coal would only be depleted by about one percent of the reserves. So, how much more is there? I have no idea, but, as new markets are appearing on the horizon, there should be plenty for all. Not being in the industry, and having no idea of the geology of the region you need to talk to the ones with statistical evidence to back up my insinuations. I do not even know if there really are seven different companies currently preparing to set up shop here. (That is the trouble with rumours — none of the local gossip is necessarily accurate.)

It does appear that the mining folk who went north of Yellowknife have mined some of this country?s diamonds, and do not want to stop working just because the weather has been a bit unreasonable! Of course Yellowknife is there because of the gold that has been found there, and all around us we have large tracts of land still unexplored for the treasures underground. Just go along the road to Prince Rupert, and take a look at some of the side roads to see what is being discovered just a few miles off the highways. Actually, almost all of this country is a treasure house just waiting to be researched.

Perhaps, if you have children (or grandchildren, or great grandchildren) you might steer them toward one of the universities that have fine mining degrees so they can explore to their hearts content. And, let us not forget how we heat our houses! Except for having sold our birthrights one more time we should have enough for several of our lifetimes! Sleep well!