Every day across B.C. people benefit from mining and every year, each British Columbian uses almost 50,000 pounds of mined products. This vital industry not only provides us with the products we need, it supports job creation and improved public services – building communities throughout the province.
I know that times are tough for the industry in Tumbler Ridge right now. Coal prices have declined significantly due to oversupply on the global market. However, I know that companies continue to see Northeast BC as a high priority for investment and I hope to see mines re-open as prices improve.
Overall, the fundamentals of British Columbia’s mining industry are strong. One of the best indicators of the industry’s success is the amount companies have spent on mineral exploration in B.C. This past year, B.C. saw $338 million in exploration spending, accounting for over 21 per cent of all exploration spending in Canada – in 2001 that figure was less than six per cent.
Since June 2011, six new metal mines have opened in B.C. (including Red Chris Gold and Copper Mine that will be fully operational soon), creating over 1,600 jobs. This record is unmatched anywhere else in Canada.
None of this development could take place without a regulatory framework that encourages global competitiveness, and ensures high environmental and safety standards. Our government recognizes the importance of this industry and is determined to continue to strengthen B.C.’s mining sector for the benefit of all British Columbians. Mining helps pay for our health, education and social services.
That’s why we recently increased the ministry’s budget by about $6 million, and are in the process of establishing a Major Mines Permitting Office that will improve the coordination of major mine permits across government, add staff to conduct more inspections and permit reviews, and improve turnaround times.
To further encourage exploration and future investment in B.C.’s mining industry, this government has also extended the Province’s $10-million mining flow-through share tax credit program, as well as the new mine allowance tax credit.
Mining provides 30,000 well-paying jobs throughout British Columbia and is crucial to the 50 rural communities that rely on it and to B.C.’s current and future economic success. Mining provides more good jobs to First Nations people than any other industry and government shares with First Nations governments, a portion of revenues from all new major mines. It is critical that First Nations benefit from mining that takes place in their traditional territory.
Let’s all celebrate the benefits that come from mining in BC by participating in Mining Week, May 4-9, 2015.
Bill Bennett represents the riding of Kootenay Ears. He was appointed Minister of Energy and Mines on June 10, 2013.