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By Hon. Rich Coleman
Special to Mining News 

Mining Explorers 2011: B.C.'s potential attracts explorers

Province paves industry's path to mineral riches with numerous benefits


Last updated 11/6/2011 at Noon

Since the mid-1800s, British Columbia has been one of the world's major mining and exploration regions, and today, we are enjoying the results as mineral exploration is increasing.

Mineral exploration spending more than doubled in 2010 to C$322 million from the year before, and B.C. was home to 13 percent of Canada's total exploration spending, up from 6 percent in 2001.

Information and maps provided by geoscience agencies are the first step in the exploration sequence. This information reduces risk for companies and encourages exploration investment for new mineral and coal resources. A small number of these exploration programs will make new discoveries and an even smaller number of these discoveries will become deposits that can be evaluated for their ability to become a mine. But just a single new mine can have a huge impact.

One new major mine in B.C. can create a C$20-million to C$50-million payroll and contribute C$15 million to C$30 million annually in mineral tax revenues. It can support 300 to 600 high-paying permanent jobs and lead to the creation of an additional 250 to 500 spinoff jobs.

In May, the provincial government announced a new C$12 million investment so Geoscience BC can continue to provide new data to help companies and prospectors explore the exciting potential to find mineral and oil and gas resources.

Considerable success has already resulted from Geoscience BC delivering the regional QUEST, QUEST-West, and QUEST-South projects. This series of projects has significantly increased exploration activity in the Mountain Pine Beetle-affected areas of B.C.'s interior, and contributed to the discovery of new resources at the Huckleberry Mine.

Geoscience BC started a QUEST-Northwest project in the Dease Lake region, partnering with the British Columbia Geological Survey. In addition to mapping near Dease Lake, the British Columbia Geological Survey is working on four other field projects in 2011 and continues to deliver free geoscience data via the award-winning MapPlace.

B.C.'s online mineral titles acquisition process is one of the best in the world, allowing tenures to be quickly obtained while avoiding on-the-ground staking costs.

In Northwest B.C., companies spent C$172 million on exploration in 2010, an increase of 164 percent from the previous year. The Northwest Transmission Line, which received federal environmental approval in May, will open up the region to even more exploration and development.

NTL is a C$404-million, 287-kilovolt, 335-kilometre, publicly owned transmission line from Skeena Substation (near Terrace) to Bob Quinn Lake. According to the Northwest Powerline Coalition, the potential of mining in the region is 11 projects, C$15 billion in investment, up to 10,000 jobs and C$300 million in annual tax revenues.

The provincial government is working hard to facilitate the investment climate and to develop new mines. For example, the British Columbia Mining Flow-Through Share Tax Credit has been extended to the end of 2013, making the after-tax cost of C$1,000 of eligible grassroots exploration the second-lowest in Canada.

B.C. has also extended the New Mine Allowance until 2016, providing the equivalent of a 133.3 percent deduction of capital costs for mines that commence or expand production before Jan. 1, 2016.

The province's mineral tax revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations, low corporate taxes, rich mineral deposits, outstanding public geoscience data, world-class infrastructure and abundant sources of clean and affordable energy all combine to make B.C. an attractive proposition for mining investors and explorers. Our future looks bright.


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