Column: Why mining matters in B.C.

Mining is a critical industry in B.C., supporting dozens of communities and thousands of families.

Mining is a critical industry in B.C., supporting dozens of communities and thousands of families across the province. Although mining takes up a very small portion of B.C.’s land base — less than one per cent — it contributes millions in revenue to help pay for services like health care and education, and employs over 30,000 workers.

Did you know that nearly three million adults in B.C. own smartphones, and each device contains approximately 16 grams of copper and 34 milligrams of gold? There were also more than 7,400 single-family homes built in B.C. in 2014, and each one contains roughly 200 kilograms of copper for everything from wiring to built-in appliances. Since 2012, the Mount Polley Mine on average produced over 14,000 metric tonnes of copper and over 1,100 kilograms of gold per year.

Every British Columbian has a connection to the mining industry in this province. That’s why we want to see the Mount Polley mine re-opened as soon as possible for the communities of Likely, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and the families that depend on the jobs it provides — but we must make sure this is done in a way that protects the environment.

Our government is continuing to respond to the recommendations of the Mount Polley Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Report. The Environmental Assessment Office, in co-ordination with the Ministries of Energy and Mines and Environment, is taking steps to ensure the safety of tailings management facilities at proposed mines in B.C.

Taseko prioritizes safety for its employees, as the Gibraltar mine recently achieved the landmark of having zero time loss incidents in 2014.

I would also like to congratulate Taseko’s Gibraltar mine for earning the Mineral Processor of the Year Award from the Canadian Mineral Processors recently.

It is companies like this that contribute to our economy and improve the attractiveness to investors all over for exploration and mine development opportunities in B.C.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.