VICTORIA – After 150 years, British Columbia?s mining industry continues to be strong, according to a major industry report, announced Minister of State for Mining Kevin Krueger during Mining Week, May 11-17.

Direct employment in the mining and minerals industry increased to 7,415 in 2007 from 7,345 in 2006, according to a report for the Mining Association of British Columbia completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The average mining salary (including benefits) also increased to $101,900 in 2007 from $99,900 in 2006. These increases reflect a strong industry that needs skilled workers across B.C.

?This week, we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Gold Rush and the continued importance of mining to British Columbians and our economy,? Krueger said. ?Strong employment, good salaries and increased exploration demonstrate how mining can and will bolster and diversify local economies in communities across B.C.?

Other highlights of the report include:

* There are 20 mine projects in the BC Environmental Assessment review process as of May 2007, which equates to an estimated 16,000 direct construction and 15,000 operating jobs.

* New capital of $1.05 billion was raised during the year, compared to 408 million in 2006. This is a very positive indicator of the ?optimism surrounding the mining industry in B.C.? * Investors are attracted by government?s super flow-through share program as the capital raised by flow-through share financings increased to $253 million in 2007 from $9 million in 2006. * The B.C. mining industry is rearded as the safest heavy industry in B.C.

Following the unprecedented earnings reported by PwC last year, 2007 shows ?a more moderate, yet very positive result for the mining industry in B.C.? British Columbia?s gross mining revenues remained strong at $6.9 billion in 2007. This is a 15 per cent decrease from 2006, which was mainly due to a decrease in coal prices and decreases in overall coal and metal shipments. The report states that overall 2007 was ?another excellent year for the B.C. Mining Industry.?

Investment in mineral exploration in B.C. soared to a record-high (according to the 40 companies that participated in the 2007 survey), increasing to $158 million in 2007 from $129 million in 2006. This increase supports the Province?s announcement in January of a record $416 million in exploration expenditures in 2007 for the entire mining and minerals industry. The report concludes that, overall, the earnings reported in 2007 bode well as the industry generated lucrative returns on investment.?

Along with this strong activity, British Columbia?s mining community is leading the way in protecting the environment and the sustainable development of its natural resources. British Columbia is known throughout the world for its reclamation practices. B.C. was one of the first provinces to enact reclamation legislation and is a national leader in state-of-the-art reclamation projects. To date, more than 18,000 hectares of previously mined land has been reclaimed and returned to its natural state and the land is now used for forestry, grazing, recreation and wildlife habitat.

The Mining Association of B.C. nd the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources honour mining companies committed to advancing and promoting sustainable development in the B.C. mining sector with a yearly Mining and Sustainability Award. Nominations for the 2008 Mining and Sustainability Award are open to companies, operations or individuals involved in the mining industry and based in B.C. For more information, please visit w