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Infographic: AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup 2017 approaches

December 12th, 2016
AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup 2017 approaches


by Kendra Johnston, Roundup 2017 organizing committee chairperson | December 12, 2016

This year’s Mineral Exploration Roundup brings together geoscientists, prospectors, investors, suppliers and First Nation partners to share ideas that will help shape the future of mineral exploration and development. As the industry continues to work through the current downturn, we reflect on the importance of networking, professional development and relationship building with our partners, stakeholders and competitors. Mineral deposits are becoming harder to find; we must now travel to more remote locations, search deeper beneath cover and sometimes settle for lower grades. These aspects, coupled with the challenging market conditions, remind us that we must be more creative and collaborative as we explore to discover and develop new mineral deposits.

With the theme of Gearing Up for Discovery, this year’s conference focuses on sharing new ideas, generating new connections and creating collaborative solutions. Our prominent Technical Sessions will highlight projects that have overcome challenges to succeed by using a combination of tried and tested techniques and new, innovative solutions. The best-practice Show Case Sessions will explore new ideas in areas of the industry that must be mastered to successfully navigate challenges and opportunities. Lastly, our public outreach presentation, Discovery Day, has been expanded to feature more interactive displays, industry-focused public interest talks and activities for your whole family.

Join us at Roundup 2017 from January 23 to 26 at Canada Place in Vancouver. Learn, share ideas and connect with others from every aspect of the industry, from prospecting to reclamation and everything in between.

Click here for registration information.

Miners, explorers respond to federal Liberals’ budget 2016

March 24th, 2016

by Greg Klein | March 24, 2016

As Canada’s new government unveiled its first of a series of deficit budgets, juniors applauded the one-year extension to the 15% mineral exploration tax credit. When harmonized with British Columbia’s flow-through, for example, a B.C. resident qualifies for a combined credit of about 32%, the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. pointed out.

Along with the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, AME B.C. also supported the feds’ proposal to allow expenses relating to environmental studies and community consultation to qualify for credits. “Engagement with project stakeholders and environmental planning and management are key components of mineral exploration and development programs,” said president/CEO Gavin Dirom.

Miners, explorers respond to federal Liberals’ first budget

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Finance
Minister Bill Morneau after he put Canada deeper in debt.
(Photo: Government of Canada)

The association also welcomed $87.2 million for Natural Resources Canada projects supporting research in forestry, mining and minerals, earth sciences and mapping, and innovative energy technology.

“This investment will extend the useful life of aging laboratories and reduce the impact of antiquated work spaces on the delivery of Natural Resources Canada’s science priorities,” the budget stated. That money was “long overdue,” according to the Mining Association of Canada.

MAC also noted investments in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, as well as Fisheries and Oceans Canada, “that will help ensure sufficient capacity exists to carry out efficient regulatory reviews of major mining projects.”

Among other improvements, the budget resolves “a tax irritant of double taxation of GHG emission allowances,” MAC added. Other features embraced by the association include up to $800 million to “support innovation networks and clusters” and a proposed four-year, $1-billion commitment for clean technology and innovation in natural resources. MAC expressed hope that infrastructure funding—more than $120 billion over 10 years—will improve transportation and northern development.

But the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines called for “direct spending on new nation-building northern infrastructure in roads, power and ports,” something the organization didn’t see specified in the budget. The chamber welcomed the increase in the northern cost-of-living deduction, pilot funding for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, continued funding for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency “to improve the timeliness, predictability and transparency” of regulatory reviews, ongoing support for northern geoscience projects and money for research and traditional knowledge of the arctic environment.

What the chamber recommended but didn’t get was a higher exploration credit for northerners “given the competitive disadvantage we face due to higher costs.” Other neglected requests included support for settlement of northern aboriginal land claims and “curbing the increased alienation of lands and waters in conservation areas.”

PDAC expressed overall satisfaction with the Liberals’ first effort. “The budget adopts a holistic approach to resource development with support for innovation, financing, aboriginal and community consultation, and northern economic development,” said president Bob Schafer.

AME BC comments on Nenqay Deni Accord between B.C. and the Tsilhqot’in Nation

February 17th, 2016

A statement from the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia | February 17, 2016

The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC) has undertaken a preliminary review of the Nenqay Deni Accord as announced between the B.C. government and the Tsilhqot’in Nation on February 12, 2016.

“While AME BC supports the important and complex work of reconciling, respecting and balancing interests between the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the government of British Columbia, as well as with all the other First Nations in B.C., our initial assessment of the Nenqay Deni Accord raises significant concerns for the mineral exploration industry, especially in regard to mineral tenures on public land,” says Gavin C. Dirom, president and CEO of AME BC. “Security of tenure is critical to our industry, and uncertainty in this regard acts as a deterrent to investment and comes at a time when B.C.’s mineral resource industry is facing serious economic challenges.”

The Nenqay Deni Accord affects a very large area of central B.C. (see accord and map), within which the Tsilhqot’in bands will be provided ownership, management and control of substantial lands. These specific lands have yet to be identified within this larger area, but they will be in addition to the lands that are included in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2014 title declaration. Furthermore, the agreement provides a timeframe of up to five years for the Tsilhqot’in bands and the B.C. government to determine precisely which lands will be subject to Tsilhqot’in management and control. Notably, the accord states that land selection will not be limited to historic use or strength of claim.

“AME BC was not consulted during the development of this agreement,” says Dirom. “So we will be taking some time to carefully review the accord in order to better understand what it may mean for the B.C. mineral exploration and development industry, especially in terms of the rights of existing and future mineral tenure holders and investors in the province of British Columbia’s sub-surface mineral resources.”

In principle, AME BC believes that acknowledging and working within the relevant law and respecting First Nations’ as well as third-party interests are preconditions to achieving success through mutual understanding, trust and respect.

Mineral exploration and development provide real and significant socio-economic opportunities and benefits to First Nations, local communities, B.C. and Canada. The mineral development potential of the lands outlined under the accord could well be an important aspect in assisting the Tsilhqot’in and B.C. government attain their socio-economic and reconciliation goals.

“AME BC fully supports reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal groups but believes this must be achieved in a manner that respects all interests and which enhances investor confidence in B.C.,” concludes Dirom.

AME BC is the lead association for the mineral exploration and development industry based in British Columbia. Established in 1912, AME BC represents, advocates, protects and promotes the interests of thousands of members who are engaged in mineral exploration and development in B.C. and throughout the world. AME BC encourages a safe, economically strong and environmentally responsible industry by providing clear initiatives, policies, events and tools to support its membership.

Glen Wonders discusses the Gathering Place at AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup

February 17th, 2016

…Read more

Caught on camera: AME BC’s Roundup 2016

February 2nd, 2016

by Greg Klein | February 2, 2016

Mineral Exploration Roundup wrapped up January 27 after hosting over 5,400 people from 33 countries. Presented by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia, this year’s event featured the theme of Innovation in Exploration, focusing on stakeholder engagement as well as creative approaches to the industry in a challenging market.

Some news highlights included B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s pledge to extend the mining exploration tax credit and flow-through share program, and to allow mines to defer electricity bills while waiting for commodity markets to recover.

The Yukon government, meanwhile, signed what it called a milestone agreement with the Kaska First Nations, creating a framework for negotiations about development in the territory’s southeast.

Geoscience B.C. released its latest airborne electromagnetic survey to help the industry as well as land use planners and local communities benefit from the data.

Five post-secondary schools signed a memorandum of understanding with the B.C. Centre of Training Excellence in Mining.

“Despite the challenging market, the collaborative ideas, new connections and innovative solutions coming out of this year’s Roundup conference will help shape the future of the industry as it continues to work through the current downturn, ” said AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom.

Next year’s event takes place January 23 to 26, 2017. The following photo feature captures some aspects of Roundup’s most recent conference.

Caught on camera AME BC’s Roundup 2016

Non-profit puts British Columbia geological data into the public domain

January 26th, 2016

by Greg Klein | January 26, 2016

A deeper understanding—literally—of some 6,700 square kilometres of northwestern British Columbia has come available not only to professionals but also to the public. Land use planners and local communities, as well as geologists and geophysicists, can benefit from a newly released Geoscience B.C. airborne magnetic survey, the non-profit announced January 26 at Mineral Exploration Roundup. The data’s on display via the organization’s proprietary online viewer.

The website combines new data with previously compiled info concerning geology, geochemistry, tenure and known mineral occurrences.

Once completed this survey will contribute to a mosaic of geophysics, geochemistry and geology with few equals in the world in terms of scale and free public accessibility.—Bruce Madu, VP of minerals and mining for Geoscience B.C.

The first survey of its type since the 1960s, the mag was flown last autumn at 250-metre line spacing for a total of 30,000 line kilometres, the equivalent of about three-quarters of the earth’s circumference. By comparison, the 1960s effort used two-kilometre spacing.

The mag comprises part of a $2.41-million project that will complement a 2014 survey and include a planned 2016 survey that will be potentially the largest in the organization’s 10-year history.

“Once completed this survey will contribute to a mosaic of geophysics, geochemistry and geology with few equals in the world in terms of scale and free public accessibility,” said Bruce Madu, Geoscience B.C.’s VP of minerals and mining.

But the info provides more of a path than a destination. “Many interpretations of this data are possible and will be made for many, many years to come,” he added. “This is a contribution that’s multi-generational.”

In an accompanying statement, Nanwakolas Council president Dallas Smith said, “It is very important for First Nations communities to include reliable geoscience data when considering investment and land use decisions in their territories. This survey data will contribute to the decision-making process in a meaningful way.”

Funded by the province and industry, Geoscience B.C. gathers earth science info in partnership with natives, other communities, the resource sector, universities and governments.

Combining trade and talk

January 22nd, 2016

Business mixes with community engagement at AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup

by Greg Klein

The New Year barely gets started before miners and explorers converge on Vancouver. The attractions are events for investors and industry—first the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference from January 24 to 25 and, located next door and overlapping in dates, Mineral Exploration Roundup from January 25 to 28. Although the latter constitutes one of the industry’s largest trade shows, the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia event also serves as a forum for ideas, discussion and debate.

Such is the world of exploration that essential knowledge now goes far beyond geological excellence. Human resources, aboriginal relations, environmental issues, workplace safety, corporate social responsibility and land access will come under scrutiny. As usual, the event features the Core Shack and Prospectors’ Tent along with courses, technical sessions, showcase events, keynote speeches, community dialogue and awards. That’s not to mention the usual deal-making, networking, gossiping, rumour-mongering, schmoozing and boozing.

AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup mixes business with community dialogue

Convivial scenes from last year show just some
of the diversity of Roundup’s participation.

Over 300 exhibitors and an estimated 6,600 attendees from maybe 36 countries are expected.

Their goal, ultimately, is to provide commodities crucial to our way of life. Although AME BC members search the world for these necessities, the province’s geological abundance makes many of them available at home. Yet extracting them has left a surprisingly tiny footprint. Since the industry began here in the 1850s, mining has impacted only about 0.05% of B.C.’s 95 million hectares. Over 40% of that turf is now under reclamation.

Those are among the details in a land use report released by AME BC on January 20. Anticipating dialogue with B.C.’s mines minister and other government reps at Roundup, the group argues that a “shrinking” land base effectively closes over half of B.C.’s territory to mineral exploration. While government policy implies that 88% of the province’s land remains open to the sector, the study finds over 18% is off limits entirely and another 32.9% has restricted access.

What’s at stake is the well-being of an industry that supports 30,000 B.C. jobs and spent $2 billion since 2010 on exploration, says Scott Weston, chairperson of AME BC’s Land Access and Use Committee. “Any time a dollar is invested in our economy, that has a spinoff for society, helping fund hospitals, schools, roads, all the things we need,” he adds.

“What we are seeing now is subtle restrictions applied to the land base that are cumulatively impacting the ability of mineral explorers to get on the land.” They can include old growth management plans, wildlife management restrictions, hunting restrictions or local rules by other levels of government. In some cases it means “you’re not allowed to explore for minerals except in the dead of winter, when it’s not possible to do mineral exploration.”

What the conference really does is create a forum for dialogue on issues facing mineral exploration and development, largely in British Columbia but increasingly across Canada and around the world.—Scott Weston, chairperson of AME BC’s Land Access
and Use Committee

The group calls on the province to consider the hidden economic potential of a region’s geology in land use planning, conduct risk assessments and socio-economic evaluations on the loss of potential economic activity, and streamline or clarify contradictory land use plans and designations.

The report notes that most of B.C.’s resource development takes place where aboriginal rights and title haven’t been settled. To Weston, that’s not so much a problem as an opportunity.

A geomorphologist whose career has spanned forestry, hydro, mining and exploration, he says, “Explorers don’t normally have revenue but what they can offer people is capacity-building, training, employment, community-building infrastructure…. There’s lots of stories of win-win benefits for explorers and the people in the areas they’re working in. It takes time and a positive attitude to find out how to make this a positive opportunity for everybody. I think business in British Columbia has changed its view and First Nations have too, and I’m seeing a very positive entrepreneurial spirit now.”

Community discussion holds an important role at Roundup, Weston emphasizes. “What the conference really does is create a forum for dialogue on issues facing mineral exploration and development, largely in British Columbia but increasingly across Canada and around the world.”

To that end, Roundup’s Gathering Place devotes two full days to aboriginal engagement. As VP of technical and government affairs for AME BC, Glen Wonders says, “We have myriad speakers, both First Nations and industrial leaders who will detail what their interests are, how they have achieved success, their future goals. So it’s a very good venue for putting across ideas and hearing different perspectives.” As last year’s event showed, attendees get plenty of opportunity to speak up. Some, natives anyway, did so with candour.

Among the biggest challenges in consultation is the number of native bands, something like 220 in B.C. “They can have similar interests but also specific needs from a particular project,” says Wonders. “You have to take your time and build a relationship to understand their perspective on any particular opportunity. Companies are now engaging early and often to ensure First Nations are involved in projects in a meaningful way.”

We have myriad speakers, both First Nations and industrial leaders who will detail what their interests are, how they have achieved success, their future goals. So it’s a very good venue for putting across ideas and hearing different perspectives.—Glen Wonders, VP of technical and government affairs
for AME BC

Having taken part in native consultation for Mount Milligan, Wonders credits the B.C. government for negotiating aboriginal economic development agreements and supporting training programs.

As for the feds, they’re considering a request from a coalition of B.C. bands to provide loan guarantees for native investment in resource stocks, according to a January 19 Vancouver Sun report. Wonders likes the idea “not only from the standpoint that they’re directly involved in the development and operation of a resource opportunity but also from the standpoint that they’ll have a long-lasting stake that’s going to be of value to them.”

Even with commodities markets down in the dumps, Wonders expresses the optimism that prevails at Roundup. “The B.C. advantages are still there with great minerology and great people who can develop those resources. We’re extremely well-positioned to capture the expansion in markets when they do come back.”

Preceded by a weekend of short courses, AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup takes place January 25 to 28 at the Vancouver Convention Centre East. Click here for more info and registration. This year Roundup overlaps the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference next door at the Vancouver Convention Centre West on January 24 and 25.

AME BC opens TSX, prepares for Roundup 2016

January 13th, 2016

by Greg Klein | January 13, 2016


This time the morning ritual celebrated the “resilience of B.C.-based mineral explorers and developers,” as the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia sounded the Toronto Stock Exchange’s opening siren. B.C. mines minister Bill Bennett joined the group on its annual investment mission to Toronto, which gives companies “an opportunity to increase awareness of British Columbia as we get prepared for an eventual upswing in the markets,” said AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom.

The association quoted TSX figures showing 59% of TSX-listed mineral exploration and mining companies (785 of 1,334) keep head offices in B.C.

Among upcoming Toronto events will be the January 14 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame dinner, this year honouring diamond pioneer Stewart Blusson and Ivanhoe founder Robert Friedland.

The Toronto events precede AME BC’s annual Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver from January 25 to 28, which overlaps the Vancouver Resource Investor Conference from January 24 to 25.

Aboriginal engagement

January 30th, 2015

AME BC’s Gathering Place sees progress among the problems, hope for the future

by Greg Klein

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Over 6,700 participants from 35 countries descended on Vancouver to give Roundup 2015 the fourth-largest crowd in its 32-year history. Promotion, deals and networking thrived, but so did the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia’s education and outreach programs. Prominent among them was Gathering Place, a four-day dialogue in which miners, natives and others tackled tough issues as the industry undergoes a cultural transformation.

AME BC’s Gathering Place sees progress among the problems, hope for the future

Tsimshian, Coast Salish, Tlingit and Kwakwaka’wakw
dancers take part in a Roundup cultural performance.

Generalities and platitudes flowed freely. But discussion could be candid too. Some company reps outlined specific policies to bring aboriginals into mining and exploration while natives suggested further courses of action. While acknowledging the seemingly slow pace of progress, one CEO maintained, “If you look back 25 years ago and look where we are today, I think you’d probably describe it as a revolution.”

Among the success stories would appear to be Kaminak Gold’s (TSXV:KAM) Coffee project. Now moving towards feasibility, Kaminak reached out to local communities in 2010, soon after optioning the Yukon property and prior to staking additional claims.

“We wanted to know if there were trap lines in the area, we wanted to know if there were any cultural or sensitive areas, or any historical areas that we need to be aware of,” explained Allison Rippin Armstrong, Kaminak’s VP of lands and environment.

Natives alerted the company about nearby gravesites, which Kaminak then excluded from staking. “That early engagement helped us avoid what potentially could have been a very distressing situation,” Armstrong said. The company funded a heritage resource study for reference when planning exploration. Environmental monitoring also began in 2010 with the help—and input—of employees from the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in first nation (TH). The natives, who’d already signed a land claim agreement, have traditional territory covering Kaminak’s deposit.

The project currently has three TH environmental monitors working with consultants who collect data at the site. The monitors also help “develop and define the baseline programs so they come from a first nation community perspective as opposed to just a purely scientific perspective,” Armstrong emphasized.

As Kaminak president/CEO Eira Thomas told a panel discussion, the company solicits native concerns during its environmental work. By the time Kaminak files a permit application, she hopes those concerns will be addressed.

In another forward-looking precaution, Kaminak provides pre-season work plans to first nations for input and review. An exploration and co-operation agreement signed with TH in 2013 includes a conflict resolution process.

Kaminak has also developed a program of modular training, involving flexible courses that can be scheduled around work and other commitments. The courses don’t require a high school diploma yet could lead to university studies, Armstrong said.

A partnership with Yukon College will bring about two pilot courses this year to prepare TH citizens for skilled jobs. “If and when our mine gets built, the entire environmental department will be TH citizens.”

Fewer specifics came from a panel discussion involving the heads of four companies with mines or advanced-stage projects.

New Gold TSX:NGD president/CEO Robert Gallagher did point out that certain contracts at the company’s New Afton mine in central B.C. are restricted to first nations businesses. Natives make up 23% of the mine’s employees. A plan to team up aspiring aboriginal businesses with experienced joint venture partners, however, failed to transmit skills from one company to the other.

Then New Gold brought in a business development director. “He works with the first nations to develop the skills and put training in place so they can really learn the business,” Gallagher said. As it stands now, the new business still works with a JV partner. But New Gold plans to eventually split the contract between two former partners as the JV ends and a standalone native-owned company emerges.

An aboriginal business owner in the audience urged companies to train natives to adapt to camp life. “If you don’t train them the right way, you’re just wasting money because it’s a Jerry Springer show every night after supper in the rec room.”

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Intelligent exploration

January 23rd, 2015

AME BC’s Roundup 2015 encourages both technical excellence and community engagement

by Greg Klein

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If nothing else, the occasional downturn offers an opportunity to pause and reflect. That explains the theme of this year’s Roundup, Intelligent Exploration. Presented by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia in Vancouver from January 26 to 29—and preceded by three days of related events—the world’s premier conference of its kind now marks its 32nd year. And despite the industry slowdown, Roundup has expanded some of its features as it settles into new and bigger surroundings at the Vancouver Convention Centre East.

AME BC’s Roundup 2015 encourages both technical excellence and community engagement

An expanded Roundup takes advantage of a larger
location at the Vancouver Convention Centre East,
under the sails of Canada Place.

Roundup’s purpose, explains conference chairperson Kendra Johnston, “is primarily to bring the exploration community together to share information about what all parties have been doing and the progress they’ve made on all fronts of exploration, from the actual geological/technical work to the peripheral things like land use and community engagement, to move exploration into the following year.”

As for Intelligent Exploration, this year’s theme came about because “it’s been a difficult year so we thought it was a good opportunity to take a step back and reflect. We’re looking at the technical aspects of projects, what we can do to advance a project, what we can glean from other projects in the area and from majors that have put a mine in place.”

But Roundup acknowledges more to exploration than the technical challenges. The conference also examines “how we can work with communities, what kind of environmental work we can do to move a project forward. We have to make sure we’re doing everything to the best of our abilities, whether it’s technical or peripheral to the geological aspects of a project.”

AME BC’s Roundup 2015 encourages both technical excellence and community engagement

Kendra Johnston: “It’s been a difficult year for companies but we’ve had some great sponsors return and some
new sponsors come forward as well.”

The technical stuff actually kicks off on January 23, when the short courses begin, and continues throughout Roundup as professionals share their expertise. Showcase sessions tackle other issues, such as industry policy, aboriginal engagement, social responsibility and health and safety. Breakfast and lunch keynote speeches offer the insights of industry bigwigs. Speakers from B.C., the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska will sing the geological and jurisdictional praises of their home turf.

Of course social events will proliferate. Among them are the Old Timers’ Lunch, curling, hockey, lots of networking and, just maybe, some drinking too.

The January 27 Awards Celebration of Excellence Gala fetes several individuals and organizations for exemplary service to exploration and development.

But Roundup reaches beyond the industry to engage the wider community. One example is Gathering Place, which brings together explorers and natives in four days of events. “It’s a great program, people really enjoy it,” says Johnston. “At some point in its growth, an exploration project involves everybody in the community, so this has been an important part of the conference for about four years now.”

Other programs focus on students, from elementary though high school and into university. “If you look at the demographics of this industry, there’s an entire age range that’s missing because of the last downturn in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” Johnston points out. “That’s created a bit of a hole as we have a generation of people reaching retirement. So we really need a new influx of people.”

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