In the stroke of a pen, mining in B.C. could sadly be put on hold

letter to the editor from Bruce Sanderson - mining in BC

To the editor;

When I was a young boy in the 1960s, a friend introduced me to a neighbour who was a geologist. The neighbour had all sorts of interesting rock samples and he was a fascinating man to sit and listen to. He even told us about global warming and climate change decades before they became common household terms.

Most of his work, from what I understood of it, involved trekking around the back country of this province, on foot with a backpack and a tent, exploring for mineral deposits that might prove to be commercially viable. Essentially, his job was to find the valuable ‘needles’ in the haystack of rocks and minerals that millions of years of geological history had bestowed upon British Columbia.

Sadly, all of that came to an end in the mid-1970s because of a sudden change in the province’s public policy.

The government of the day had won an election on a promise to protect the environment and decreed that there would be no more mines in B.C.

That meant there was no longer any reason for anyone to be out searching for mineral deposits.

Mineral exploration, and the good jobs it created and supported, came to a virtual halt.

My friend’s neighbour never worked as a geologist again and he basically spent the rest of his life working in his garden.

It was such a waste of human and economic potential.

A balanced approach to the issue would have been to consult with the industry, and specialists, to ensure that sustainable changes supported by science were made; changes that protected the environment while also being economically sound.

Ultimately, this is what scares me the most about the possibility of another reactionary change in the province’s public policy, changes which could unleash another departure from stability, science and certainty in the mining industry: In the stroke of a pen a new government could once again kill B.C.’s now thriving mining and mineral exploration industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports directly and indirectly.

Bruce Sanderson

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