Digging in: Beating the bad rap [British Columbia mining] – Peter Koven (National Post – July 27, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper. Peter Koven is their mining reporter.

For all the criticism that British Columbia’s mining industry receives, Jim O’Rourke will tell you that it is a good place to do business.

He should know. Mr. O’Rourke is the chief executive of Copper Mountain Mining Corp., which is holding the grand opening of its namesake mine in B.C. next month. It is the most promising new operation to open in B.C. in years. He was also involved in a number of prior B.C. projects, including the Endako mine in the 1960s and the Gibraltar mine in the 1970s.

“The whole Copper Mountain project went very well. From the time of buying the mine, completing our preliminary assessment in the first year, we went right into the feasibility study and met all of our targets over the past four years,” he says. “I think things have gotten a little more complicated [in B.C.] but, overall, it went well.”

The smooth success of Copper Mountain stands in stark contrast to British Columbia’s poor reputation among many in the industry. Fair or not, B.C. is often viewed as a tough place to do business because of land claims issues and bureaucratic headaches.

That reputation was underscored in the latest rankings of mining jurisdictions by the Fraser Institute. British Columbia came in 36th place, behind the likes of Namibia, Bulgaria and Burkina Faso. By contrast, neighbouring Alberta ranked first.

It has not helped B.C.’s mining reputation that one negative event got so much attention last year: the federal government’s decision to reject Taseko Mines Ltd.’s Prosperity project over environmental concerns. That came after the provincial government approved it.

The Taseko decision overshadowed a lot of new mining activity in the province, all of which suggests that mining companies are eager to invest money there. Along with Copper Mountain, New Gold Inc.’s New Afton mine and Thompson Creek Metals Co. Inc.’s Mount Milligan mine are under construction. Existing mines are being expanded, and a number of others are in earlier stages of development. Even Taseko continues to advance Prosperity with an adjusted mine plan.

“We haven’t built a lot of new mines over the last couple of decades. Now that we’re in this cycle where we see more mines being proposed and hopefully more mines being built, we have an opportunity to prove ourselves and hopefully demon-strate to the public that we’re a different industry than we were 100 years ago,” says Zoe Younger, acting president of the Mining Association of British Columbia.

Ms. Younger acknowledges that land claim issues with First Nations remains a “very challenging” issue in B.C., as are issues around the timeliness of the regulatory process and co-ordination between the provincial and federal governments.

For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post/Financial Post website: http://www.financialpost.com/news/Digging/5164130/story.html

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