Mining Week 2014
We are celebrating Mining Week in B.C. this week to recognize the industry as one of our province’s key economic drivers. Mining has a significant history and a promising future in B.C. Not only has the mining industry helped shape B.C. during the last 150 years, it will play an important role in creating a strong and stable economic future.
Over the past dozen years, mining has made significant strides forward here in B.C. The production value of mining in 2012 was $8.3 billion — up from $2.9 billion in 2001. I’m proud to say that more than 30,000 people are employed in mining, mineral exploration, and related sectors — whereas in 2001 only 14,700 people were employed in the sector. Those are promising numbers and even with the current downturn in commodity prices, the progress we’ve made is reassuring and provides confidence that B.C.’s mining industry and the communities facing current challenges will bounce back.
I understand the decision by the federal government to not support the proposed New Prosperity Mine was discouraging for many people in the region including MLAs Donna Barnett and Coralee Oakes, and I too was disappointed. We made our position on the project clear and now we will wait to hear from the company on their plans to respond. I think it’s important to note that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has invited the company to resubmit another proposal “that addresses the government’s concerns.”
With that being said, mining in the Cariboo has made some strides forward following the expansion of Gibraltar Mine in Williams Lake. The expansion provides more than 520 full time family-supporting jobs for the area and the project expects to produce 85,000 metric tonnes of copper and molybdenum per day and its mine life has been extended to 2039.
So while temporary downturns in the mining industry are expected, yet still unfortunate, there is no doubt B.C.’s mining industry is healthy. The mineral exploration and mining industry provides more than 30,000 well-paying jobs in communities throughout the province. Since 2011, three new major mines have opened, three more are expected to open this year, a further three are under construction or permitted and seven major expansions of existing mines have been approved.
As we move forward, our overall goal is to ensure the mining industry has every opportunity to succeed in communities across B.C. to help strengthen our provincial and local economies. Stable management of our economy and maintaining an attractive investment climate means that when global commodity prices do improve, B.C. will be one of the first places mining companies chose to invest.
Bill Bennett is the Minister of Energy and Mines and is responsible for core review.