Mining Crucial to British Columbia’s Success – Randy Hawes, B.C. Minister of State for Mining

The following speech was delivered by Randy Hawes, British Columbia’s Minister of State for Mining, at the opening of AME BC Roundup 2011 conference in Vancouver on January 24, 2011.

“British Columbia is the first province in Canada to share direct provincial tax revenue
generated from new mines or mine expansions with First Nations. This only applies to
new mines and expansions. Resource revenue sharing will not cost the industry a cent.
This is a commitment to sharing revenue that the province will receive from new mine
developments.” (Randy Hawes – B.C. Minister of State for Mining – Jan/24/11)

This year’s theme, “exploring today for tomorrow’s resources,” is particularly apt. After spending $154 million on exploration in 2009, that figure more than doubled to $322 million in 2010.

This represents the third-highest total ever and a 109% increase on 2009. In 1999, the figure was just $25 million. This is an extraordinary turnaround and is indicative of a reinvigorated and optimistic mining industry.

It also underlines the importance the mineral industry is playing in the province’s economic recovery. Exploration investment is a key indicator of mining’s future and this suggests a very bright future indeed.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of mining’s excellent health is the development of new mines. The mining industry invested over $1 billion last year, expanding existing operations and developing new mines in B.C. Major mine expansions at Endako, Gibraltar, Highland Valley Copper, Wolverine and others underline the attractiveness of operating in British Columbia.

Construction and mine development is already underway at Copper Mountain, New Afton and Mt. Milligan, and with plans for openings in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively, they demonstrate the gathering momentum of the industry in B.C.

B.C. has about $25 billion of potential investment in new mining projects in the provincial environmental assessment system. At the end of 2010, 10 mines were in the environmental assessment process, six mines had been approved, another six permitted and waiting to begin production, while another three mines are undergoing major expansion.

With metal and coal prices rebounding so spectacularly, it is vital, for both the good of the province and the mining industry, that we focus on moving towards a “one project, one process” approval system. We are committed to achieving this goal. It is imperative that the process is simple, fair and timely.

The BC advantage: taxes

British Columbia’s corporate taxes are among the lowest in Canada.

To spur investment and cut red tape, 152,000 needless regulatory requirements have been removed – a reduction of more than 42% since 2001. B.C.’s credit rating has been upgraded seven times since 2001, and B.C. now enjoys an AAA credit rating, the highest possible.

These low taxes encourage a mining industry that is worth $6 billion to B.C. in terms of net production value. The mining flow-through share tax credit has been extended to the end of 2013, making the after-tax cost of $1,000 of eligible grassroots exploration the second-lowest in Canada.

We have extended the new mine allowance until 2016. The allowance provides the equivalent of 133.3% deduction of capital costs for mines that commence or expand production before Jan. 1, 2016. HST will save the mining industry about $55 million annually.

Infrastructure

B.C. is Canada’s gateway to the Pacific and is strategically located to reach important and growing global markets. B.C.’s mining competitiveness includes its low-cost electricity and natural gas, its strategic ports with rail access on the Pacific Ocean, and an extensive road network. Vancouver International Airport, Port Metro Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert are the closest gateways to Asia from North America.

The provincial government will contribute $4.3-billion to a $22-billion infrastructure upgrade program.

Prince Rupert is the closest port to Asia, with sailing times up to three days closer than other large west coast ports. Up to 90% of B.C.’s electricity demands are met by reliable and renewable hydroelectricity.

Public geoscience

If you want to know where to invest your exploration dollars, contact the expert geologists at the British Columbia Geological Survey.

The survey completed five field projects, led three field trips for industry geologists and continued to deliver more than a hundred years of geoscience data via the award winning MapPlace over the internet for free.

The field surveys included mapping south of Houston, on the North Coast, near the Iskut River and in the Kutcho Creek area and industrial mineral studies.

British Columbia is ranked among the best internationally for the quality of our geological database, and has a growing inventory of more than 12,000 mineral occurrences.

The government will continue to play a leading role in developing the province’s vast potential through the British Columbia Geological Survey and Geoscience BC.

This invaluable database is accessible to global clients and investors through mapplace.ca and the mining ministry’s website.

Little wonder then that more than half of Canada’s exploration and mining companies are based in the province, with Vancouver home to more than 800 exploration companies.
Geoscience BC will be releasing some new geochemical data from northern B.C. on their website.

These results include new analyses of over 7,000 archived drainage sediment samples, covering a large portion of northern B.C., including regions around the Stewart, Toodoggone and Cassiar mining camps.

We expect that these results will trigger some mineral titles staking and follow-up exploration activity.

First Nations

British Columbia is the first province in Canada to share direct provincial tax revenue generated from new mines or mine expansions with First Nations. This only applies to new mines and expansions.

Resource revenue sharing will not cost the industry a cent. This is a commitment to sharing revenue that the province will receive from new mine developments.

 In August 2010, two historic agreements were signed between the province and three First Nations: The McLeod Lake Indian Band, for revenue sharing for the mine at Mt. Milligan, and the Skeetchestn and Tk’emlups First Nations, for revenue sharing for the mine at New Afton.

These agreements ensure that First Nation communities benefit directly from resource development in their territories, and provide the financial capacity to achieve objectives they have identified for their community.

We are proud of our achievements, but realize that there is a great deal yet to do.

Conclusion

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 and 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. Last year was a wonderful year for mining. I have no doubt that 2011 will prove even more spectacular.

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