I am committed to assisting the development of our natural resources to ensure healthy industries that are competitive in the international marketplace, attractive to investors and able to create and sustain jobs

British Columbia’s Resource industry is vital to our provinces economy. It is essential that it remain strong and flourish. Resources built our province and continue to be a pillar to its growth.

The importance of all our resource industries cannot be understated. Take the historical contribution of our Mining industry.

In 1857 Capt George Richards sailed his HMS Plumper from the Arctic, where he had been searching for John Franklin’s lost ships, to the West Coast. He had been commissioned to assist the British Boundary Commission in surveying the waters between the United States and British Columbia.

When the gold rush started a year later, his focus changed. He began to perform extensive hydrographical surveying (measuring the depth of the water ways) which was necessary with the increase in shipping traffic. This led him to discover a coal seam on the south shore of Burrard Inlet thus named Coal Harbour, as well as a Creek that went nowhere, which he named False Creek. Richards would go on to become Admiral and Hydrographer of the British Navy responsible for charts of the world’s oceans.

The first gold rush in North America began in 1848 in California, and by the late 1850’s it was winding down. Rumours of gold in BC began to circulate as early as 1852 and in 1858 thousands of men sailed north from San Francisco hoping to strike it rich. This prompted Britain to send Judge Begbie and Col. Moody with 170 Royal Engineers to assist Gov. James Douglas to put in place the essentials of British Columbia government.

In order to tax and provide infrastructure and government services for mining an area had to be officially designated as a British Colony. The reason British Columbia has the boundaries it does today is because of a series of accretions that were required to administer several gold rushes. The Queen Charlotte Islands or Haida Gwaii were added to the responsibilities of Governor Douglas in a small 1852 gold rush. The Fraser Canyon gold rush of 1858 led to about half of the British Columbia mainland being declared a Colony.

It was the Stikine and Omenica gold discoveries in 1861 as well as smaller finds on the Peace and Parsnip rivers that added the Northwest and Northeast sections of the province. By the end of these gold rushes British Columbia comprised almost 1,000,000 km². British Columbia was originally known as the “gold colony” and rightly so for in its first two decades gold accounted for over 90% of its export income.

The discovery of gold was one of the most significant economic, social and political events in BC’s development. Businesses, trading posts, outfitters, banks and stores appeared to support the miners, and the centre for much of the activity, Barkerville, became the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. The engineering triumph called the Cariboo Road, or the Queen’s Highway was a critical piece of infrastructure to support the development of British Columbia which was a direct result of the gold rushes.

This interest in mining was part of an explosion of exploration and mining activity that would help define the economy of British Columbia to this day. BC is now Canada’s largest exporter of coal and the largest producer of copper, in addition to producing large amounts of gold, silver, lead, zinc and many other minerals.

There are approximately 1,200 exploration companies located in BC, most located in the riding of Vancouver-False Creek. Vancouver is one of the world’s leading centres of expertise for mineral exploration and is home to the world’s largest concentration of professional geoscientists.

The mining industry is a major pillar of BC’s economy. The production value of B.C.’s mining industry is $8.6 billion. Exploration spending is over $460 million and the mining sector invests over $2 billion per year. Coal exports alone account for 38% of the total volume handled at the Port of Vancouver.

Mining is also an important employment generator in BC. Over 29,000 people are employed in mining with an average salary of $116,000. It is expected that the industry will require 17,000 new workers over the next 10 years.

So, what should BC do to encourage the vital mining industry?

British Columbia should continue with a policy that has our tax rates as one of the lowest in North America. Our combined federal-provincial corporate income tax rate is among the lowest of the G7 countries.

The loss of the HST is a blow to the mining industry and the BC economy. While all the major economies in the world are abandoning the inefficient “cascading tax systems” like the PST, British Columbia stands alone in the world as going backwards.

We must continue to foster our already good relationships with Asian economies.

The Provincial Government committed in the 2013 budget to reduce red tape, and the mining industry stands to benefit from that approach. An efficient permitting and approval process for exploration and development projects is essential.

We need to continue our commitment to being a world leader in environmental protection by working with all stakeholders in the mining industry in areas such as water quality, climate action and wildlife management.

There are many opportunities for mining to benefit First Nations by not only proving jobs, but by the associated economic development. It is important for both government and industry to engage First Nations when mining activities are being considered.

Finally, we need to ensure that the mining industry has the correct mix of skilled, experienced and accessible employees to maintain the growth and contribution to BC’s economy. Like other industries, mining is affected by an aging demographic and competition for those skilled workers.

We must focus attention on educating and training British Columbians to enter industries like mining, but also be strategic in welcoming skilled workers from other provinces and countries.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply