British Columbia has a long history of mining, dating back from the gold rush in the Kootenays and the Cariboo to early coal mining on Vancouver Island in the early 1800s.
Thanks to its diverse geology, the province is rich in high quality mineral resources and, today, there are mining operations in every corner of the province. Vancouver has positioned itself as a global centre of excellence in building and operating mines and is home to some of the most innovative, sustainable mining companies in the world. The province benefits from home-grown technology and innovation, drawing largely from the incredibly talented and dedicated workforce that calls B.C. home. With close proximity to Asian markets and a wealth of talent and expertise in the mining industry, B.C. is positioned to build on its reputation as a mining jurisdiction of choice in the competitive international marketplace.
Despite all of these advantages, 2014-2015 have been challenging years for the mining industry. Largely due to falling commodity prices, several operating mines in B.C. were placed in care and maintenance, resulting in workforce reductions, primarily in the North Eastern corner of the province.
These external pressures are continuing through 2015.
Notwithstanding these challenges, there are currently a significant number of projects in the approval process which provide an opportunity for growth of the mining industry, further strengthening the provincial economy. This wealth of potential is represented by approximately 30 projects, worth an estimated $30 billion, in varying stages of the environmental assessment and mine permitting process.
The BC Government has committed to growing the mining industry and the BC Jobs Plan identifies a goal of 8 new mines and 9 mine expansions. Later this year, Red Chris, a copper and gold mine located 80 km south of Dease Lake in northern British Columbia, will be the sixth mine to open in B.C. since 2011. It is the first mine to connect to the new Northwest Transmission Line, a new 340 km, 287 kV transmission line providing clean, reliable energy to B.C.’s northern interior.
“British Columbia is uniquely positioned, through geography, geology and innovative people, as an international mining hub.”
Since 2001, the value of the mining industry in BC has nearly tripled to $8.2 billion in 2014 and the benefits of this important industry extend far beyond the mines and communities where mining activity takes place. From pit to port, the industry supports thousands of direct and indirect jobs in communities across B.C. In 2014, the B.C. mining industry employed approximately 10,000 workers across the province. Additionally, B.C. is home to hundreds of mining supplier companies, generating an estimated two additional jobs for every direct job in mining.
While the industry faces external pressures, the B.C. mining industry remains resilient and well positioned for the future. B.C.`s mine operators are recognized as global leaders in the planning, development and operation of mines. Consistently, the members of the Mining Association of B.C. have shown their commitment to environmental stewardship, community engagement and social responsibility.
One example of such industry leadership is the Towards Sustainable Mining program (TSM). TSM was established in 2004 by the Mining Association of Canada, with strong representation from industry leaders from B.C., and is a set of tools and indicators to drive performance and ensure that risks are managed responsibly at each operation. The TSM program is about transparency, integrity, credibility and it is a leading system in the field of corporate social responsibility. B.C. was the first provincial jurisdiction to adopt the program in 2010 and our members are currently engaged in implementation.
British Columbia is uniquely positioned, through geography, geology and innovative people, as an international mining hub.The B.C. mining industry is ready to meet our needs for mined materials in a sustainable, responsible way and we look forward to continuing to be global leaders in environmental stewardship, community engagement and economic prosperity for generations to come.