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By Hon. Randy Hawes
Special to Mining News 

2010 Mining Explorers: Mining aids B.C. recovery

Province breaks new ground by signing revenue-sharing pacts with First Nations


Last updated 10/31/2010 at Noon

British Columbia is home to an incredibly dynamic mining sector which is helping to lead B.C.'s economic recovery. This is due to our abundant natural resources, excellent environmental and safety standards and competitive tax and regulatory systems.

Mining is an estimated $5.7 billion industry for B.C. based on 2009 production values. It was the sixth highest year for exploration spending at $154 million and more than 350 exploration projects around the province were active in 2009. British Columbia is ranked among the best in the world for the quality of our geological databases with a growing inventory of more than 12,000 mineral occurrences. These mineral resources are under-explored and new discoveries are made each year.

The province has more than 50 metal, coal and industrial mineral mines in production. B.C. produces and exports a significant amount of copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc, molybdenum, coal and industrial minerals every year. We have new mines that are set to open and mines that are expanding.

We are also breaking new ground in our relationships with First Nations. For the first time in the history of the province, revenue-sharing agreements were signed this August between the Province and the Stk'emlupsemc of the Secwepemc Nation (SSN), and the McLeod Lake Indian Band. These Economic and Community Development Agreements share mineral tax revenues generated by the New Afton copper-gold project outside Kamloops and the Mount Milligan copper-gold project, near Fort St. James in northern B.C., respectively. These agreements place a strong focus on community development to assist First Nations in achieving their social and economic goals.

These are the first agreements in B.C. to share direct revenue generated from mining, and this approach will be used in other areas of B.C. where there is a proposed project resulting in a new stream of direct resource revenue to the province. Future agreements will ensure development of a thriving, competitive, safe and environmentally responsible mineral resource sector and will increase the contribution to the local and provincial economy.

In May 2010 Mining Week was celebrated with a family day held at the Copper Mountain mine site in Princeton, B.C. This project is expected to provide about 200 jobs during the construction and another 250 when the mine is fully operational.

Overall, B.C.'s mining and minerals sector employs about 28,000 people in more than 50 communities throughout the province, and those numbers are set to grow. The average salary is C$110,800.

B.C. boasts one of the most competitive tax and regulatory systems in the world. In January 2010, the Flow-Through Share Tax Credit was extended three years to 2013, making the after-tax cost of C$1,000 of eligible grassroots exploration the second-lowest in Canada. We also have extended the New Mine Allowance until 2016. The allowance effectively provides a deduction of 133.3 percent of capital costs for mines that commence or expand production between now and Jan. 1, 2016.

The Harmonized Sales Tax will save the mining industry about C$55 million annually and industry has identified additional millions in savings for new mine development and construction. Savings also will come from recovery of indirect sales tax payments, reduced compliance and other administrative costs.

With this growth comes environmental responsibility. We have among the most stringent environmental assessment laws in the world and we are proud of that. We support the responsible development of our valuable mineral resources, but will not approve any activity that poses undue risks to the environment or public health and safety.

Our natural resource potential, technology, infrastructure and competitive business environment, along with our unique position as Canada's gateway to the Asia-Pacific, have made the B.C. mining industry a worldwide leader. We are forging a future of jobs, opportunities and sustainability, which is making B.C. an attractive place to invest, to work and to play.


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