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The association continues to address land use conflicts, he adds. “We’ve made aboriginal relations and engagement a priority. That means consultation about the land, education about opportunities in mineral development and building the local capacity to work on exploration and mining.”
Another accomplishment is the industry’s safety record. “It’s come a long way,” says Dirom.
But the industry has demographic challenges. “We now have people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who have built up considerable experience on top of their academic credentials,” Dirom points out. “All that’s hard to replicate. So now we’re encouraging mentorship of new people to the business, whether they’re young or middle-aged. This is the time to build that new capacity to encourage newcomers and train the next generation. They’ll continue to be our competitive edge, as the current generation is now. The world’s largest concentration of geoscientists is in British Columbia.”
The association also lobbies government on issues like permitting. The average turnaround time is now 81 days, Dirom says. “We’re encouraging the government to reduce it to 60 days and lower because in many cases it shouldn’t have to take that long. But it was well over 100 days when we began this effort a few years ago.”
With a provincial election coming in May, this is “actually a good opportunity to communicate what’s important to our industry and about our industry,” he says.
Certainly investors show tangible signs of confidence. B.C.-based, TSX and TSXV-listed exploration and mining companies raised over $5 billion last year, according to Dirom, “well over half of what was raised in Canada.” The amount actually spent in B.C. has seen an upward trajectory for years: $154 million in 2009, $322 million in 2010, a record $463 million in 2011 and—despite the tough markets—possibly another record in 2012. The actual amount will be announced by B.C. Premier Christy Clark in her January 28 Roundup speech.
We’ve made aboriginal relations and engagement a priority. That means consultation about the land, education about opportunities in mineral development and building the local capacity to work on exploration and mining.—AME BC president/CEO
The number might be skewed, however, by a disproportionate amount spent on a few advanced projects. “We can’t lose sight of grassroots exploration, smaller projects and fundamental geoscience to make sure there’s a pipeline of newer projects following these advanced projects,” Dirom cautions. He adds that most of the province remains under-explored.
Nevertheless, “it’s exciting to see all this activity in B.C.” As AME BC begins another hundred years, Dirom says, “the next century looks exciting and we’re glad to be part of it.”
At press time it was too early to estimate attendance, said AME BC communications director Jonathan Buchanan. He described registration as “busy and ongoing,” with attendees signed up from over 35 countries. AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup Conference 2013 takes place January 28 to 31 at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore Hotel. Click here for registration information.
AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup Conference 2013 takes place January 28 to 31 at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore Hotel. Click here for registration information.
Update: On January 28, the B.C. government announced 2012 exploration expenditures of $680 million, a 47% increase over 2011. Read more here.
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