B.C. well positioned to capitalize on expected mining boom – by Scott Simpson (Vancouver Sun – April 19, 2013)

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Sixty per cent of the world’s miners are on TSX exchanges, most are them are based in B.C.

All the numbers point to British Columbia as the epicentre of a global boom in mineral exploration and mine development.

We are a mining country. Minerals account for 23 per cent of Canada’s goods exports. Almost 60 per cent of the world’s publicly traded mining companies have their primary listing on either the Toronto Stock Exchange or the TSX Venture (junior company) exchange. The majority have their head office in B.C. Nearly half are managing mineral projects outside of Canada. They attracted 70 per cent of the equity capital raised globally for mining companies in 2012.

There is plenty of focus on projects within Canada, too. This is the world’s most popular country for mining investors – 18 per cent of global mining investment in 2011 came here, according to the Mining Association of Canada. From 2002 to 2011, amid the best mining commodity boom in decades, exploration spending aimed at finding and scoping out potential new mines grew almost seven-fold.

Last year, B.C. attracted a record $680 million in mineral exploration, an increase of 47 per cent over the previous best year, $462 million in 2011. Total direct employment in the mining sector, according to BC Stats, was 14,100 in 2012. That’s projected to grow to 16,770 by 2023. Average annual pay exceeds $115,000 per employee.

By dollar value, mining runs second only to forestry for export value to the provincial economy. It accounts for about three per cent of annual provincial gross domestic product (GDP). The value of exports of coal, copper and other metals and minerals reached $9.1 billion in 2012 after a record $10.6 billion in 2011.

In a recent presentation to the Kamloops Exploration Group, Pierre Gratton, president of the Mining Association of B.C., said it was the “depth and breadth of our mining industry that has enabled Canada to weather the recent economic turmoil better than any other G-8 country.”

Gratton said the effects of a globalized economy and the rapid development of China have given rise to a mining ‘super cycle’ which presents both huge opportunities and huge challenges for Canada in the decades ahead.

Challenges include ‘resource nationalism’ and community protests “as societies struggle with how best to handle and distribute a growing amount of mineral wealth.” As well, increased demand for mining engineers, geologists, trades and skilled workers is creating “fierce” global competition for workers.

Meanwhile, Gratton said, the next 20 years will see “a doubling of demand for most mineral products. The pace of this growth will be checked from time to time … but it will not materially shift from its axis.”

He added that B.C. is an important part of this growth. In particular, Gratton expects to see Kamloops, already a regional mining hub, growing into a major Canadian hub for both direct mining activity and supply and service to the industry.

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