Mining a vital part of economic recovery

British Columbia’s $6-billion mining industry helped power the province’s economic recovery in 2010, with employment, revenue, exports, production and prices all up over the previous year.

  • Jan. 3, 2011 2:00 p.m.

British Columbia’s $6-billion mining industry helped power the province’s economic recovery in 2010, with employment, revenue, exports, production and prices all up over the previous year.

“Mining continues to play a significant role in the economy,” Randy Hawes, Minister of State for Mining, said. “We as a government will continue to provide the investment climate that will attract new mine development.”

Spurred on by increased demand and a robust price, B.C. increased its steel-making metallurgical coal production by 20 per cent to an estimated 26 million tons in 2010. The price of metallurgical coal rose from $120 per ton in 2009 to $210 per ton this year, with increased demand from China driving the price upwards.

Hawes pointed out that China could prove an increasingly lucrative market for B.C. coal. In 2007, China imported 140,000 tons of B.C. steel-making coal. That figure was forecast to rise to 3.3 million tons by the end of 2010 as China builds new subdivisions to house its rapidly urbanizing population.

Korea and Japan, traditional markets for B.C. coal, also increased the amount of coal they bought from the province. Overall, mineral exports are forecast to reach $5.4-billion for 2010.

The province’s metal mines have also enjoyed a profitable year, with copper and gold prices in particular rising considerably. The robust price of coal and metals triggered the development of new projects. Copper Mountain outside Princeton and the New Afton copper-gold mine near Kamloops are under construction. The Mt. Milligan copper-gold development project was approved for development in 2010, too.

With $25 billion of potential investment in new mining projects in the provincial environmental assessment system, Hawes reiterated how important the one project, one process approval system is. “We are committed to achieving this goal. It is important to the Province and the mining industry that the process is simple, fair and quick,” said Hawes.

As an indication of the mining resurgence underway in the province, mineral exploration spending increased dramatically in 2010 to more than $250 million. Exploration expenditures are one of key indicators of mining’s bright future. More than 11,400 British Columbians are directly employed by the mines, while a further 17,000 rely on the industry for their employment.

The Province’s revenue sharing agreements with First Nations, low corporate taxes, rich mineral deposits, world-class infrastructure and an abundant source of clean and affordable energy all combine to make B.C. an attractive proposition for mining investors.

“Mining is crucial to B.C’s success,” said Hawes. “We are determined to work with the industry for the good of all British Columbians. We are forging a future based on jobs, sustainability and opportunity, second to none.”