Thursday 8th December 2016

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Taseko Mines Ltd (TKO)’

Dual challenge

July 24th, 2016

Do mining proposals really need both provincial and federal enviro scrutiny?

by Greg Klein

Ottawa’s rejection of the proposed New Prosperity copper-gold mine in British Columbia certainly hasn’t gone unchallenged. Taseko Mines TSX:TKO has already launched two judicial reviews as well as a civil suit castigating the manner in which the company says the feds carried out their authority. Now Taseko seems to be challenging federal authority itself.

“Ownership and development of mineral resources are explicit areas of provincial jurisdiction and responsibility, granted under the 1982 amendments to the Constitution Act 1867,” said a July 20 statement from president/CEO Russell Hallbauer. “The New Prosperity environmental assessment process has been unduly influenced by the actions of the federal government.”

Do mining proposals really need both provincial and federal enviro scrutiny?

How far the company intends to push that argument remains to be seen. But this typically Canadian jurisdictional muddle also raises the question of why two environmental processes are necessary—not to mention how they can come to such different conclusions. Prior to the feds’ rejection, B.C. had approved the mine.

B.C. now has a substitution agreement that allows some resource proposals to forgo the federal review for a provincial process. Ottawa still gets a say, though. Out of the one review come two decisions, federal and provincial.

B.C.’s the only province with such an agreement. According to terms first set out in a 2013 MOU, the provincial environment minister pitches a substitution request to her federal counterpart, who considers factors including transboundary effects, impacts on federal lands and other jurisdictional interests. If Ottawa agrees, the province conducts the review. If Ottawa doesn’t agree, a co-operative assessment or joint review panel might take place instead.

Thirteen applications have been approved for substitution so far, seven of them mining proposals, according to info supplied by the province’s Ministry of Environment.

The duplication of the process and sometimes even the lack of clarity regarding what’s in and what’s out of each review does create confusion and unnecessary delays.—Karina Briño, president/CEO
of the Mining Association of B.C.

Substitution wasn’t the streamlined ideal hoped for by the Mining Association of B.C., says president/CEO Karina Briño. But “in the absence of legislative change, we have been advocating for substitution. The duplication of the process and sometimes even the lack of clarity regarding what’s in and what’s out of each review does create confusion and unnecessary delays. So we do feel very strongly there can be one well-articulated process with the necessary scope to meet the requirements of both jurisdictions.”

Environmental assessments also require companies to address issues such as native heritage, land rights and potential land rights. That’s as it should be, the MABC believes. “We’ve always supported a process that does examine proposals not only from a technical perspective but also from a socio-economic lens…. What we would like to see is more consistency from a federal/provincial level with the same concepts applied,” Briño explains.

“What we’re looking for is clarity in terms of the review’s scope, its timeline, the level of information required to meet the duty to consult,” she adds. “What we don’t think is very constructive—and it does create a lot of uncertainty on the ground—is when the rules of the game change halfway through…. In the process of assessing the impact on the environment and on aboriginals, it’s very important for the industry to know the scope of both those aspects will not change halfway through the process.”

Meanwhile Taseko has levelled strong accusations at Ottawa. “We are challenging the federal government on a couple of different fronts regarding the federal assessment of New Prosperity,” VP of corporate affairs Brian Battison says.

The original Prosperity proposal met strong native opposition largely due to a plan to drain the 118-hectare Fish Lake for use as a tailings facility. That was key to Ottawa’s first rejection in November 2010. Taseko then submitted a multi-million-dollar revision called New Prosperity, which the company said would save the lake by relocating the tailings. Natives, represented by the Tsilhqot’in National Government, still objected. Ottawa delivered its second rejection in February 2014.

Since then the company has requested one judicial review to examine Taseko’s charge that the federally appointed assessment panel considered a mine plan different than New Prosperity. The other judicial review will examine Taseko’s claim that the government based its decision on the faulty assessment, disregarding the company’s warning. That review will also look at Taseko’s claims that the government and its officials held secret meetings with project opponents. The lawsuit seeks compensation.

Taseko’s allegations have yet to be heard in court. Battison expects dates to be set soon for both judicial reviews.

The company also plans to file a notice of work with the province, allowing Taseko to gather site info “primarily to address questions that were raised during the federal environmental assessment,” Battison says. As part of that process the company stated it “looks forward to working with the six local Tsilhqot’in First Nation bands as represented by the Tsilhqot’in National Government….”

That suggests considerable optimism on the company’s part. In 2014 Tsilhqot’in chiefs attributed Ottawa’s Prosperity/New Prosperity decisions to “an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.”

But reserves containing 11 million ounces of gold and 4.2 billion pounds of copper—the continent’s largest undeveloped gold-copper porphyry—evidently encourage persistence.

Hunter Dickinson-backed Taseko battles Chicago private equity firm

May 6th, 2016

by SmallCapPower.com | May 6, 2016

As far as proxy battles go, it doesn’t get much nastier than this. In one corner is the management of Taseko Mines TSX:TKO, which has the backing of Hunter Dickinson. In the other is Raging River Capital, the dissidents, a Chicago-based private equity and investment firm which wants to replace the current board of directors with its own slate of nominees.

Hunter Dickinson-backed Taseko battles Chicago private equity firm

Taseko’s flagship is its 75%-owned Gibraltar,
Canada’s second-largest open pit copper mine.

Taseko’s flagship asset is its 75%-owned Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine in British Columbia, the second-largest open pit copper mine in Canada, which produced a record 142 million pounds of copper in 2015. The company also owns the Florence copper project, an advanced-staged development project in Arizona, which it acquired when it bought Curis Resources in 2014.

Interesting upside for Taseko could come from its Aley niobium project in northern British Columbia, the third-largest niobium deposit in the world, which the company purchased for $5.4 million in 2007. After the company invested $30 million into exploration and development work, it claims the project has an $860-million net present value.

Niobium is used primarily in the manufacturing of high-strength, light-weight and corrosion-resistant steel. Brazil has a dominant share (about 85%) of the world’s niobium output. Despite the fact that Aley’s grades are about one-third of those found in Brazil, it would offer up a new supply source for North American buyers, although the project’s remote access could be a problem.

Weighing on Taseko’s stock price during the past few years, in addition to falling commodities prices, has been the First Nations and Canadian government’s opposition to the company’s New Prosperity project in British Columbia, a large gold-copper porphyry deposit.

Continue reading this article on SmallCapPower.com.

Controversial ex-environment minister joins TMAC board of directors

March 15th, 2016

by Greg Klein | March 15, 2016

The announcement was somewhat muted, coming in the subhead and second paragraph of a February press release about Q4 financial and operating results. TMAC Resources TSX:TMR has appointed Leona Aglukkaq to its board of directors. The last environment minister in Canada’s former Conservative cabinet, Aglukkaq figures prominently in a lawsuit from Taseko Mines TSX:TKO against the federal government.

Controversial ex-environment minister appointed to miner’s board of directors

Leona Aglukkaq

Taseko alleged that senior officials including Aglukkaq’s deputy minister and parliamentary secretary held undisclosed meetings with opponents of the company’s proposed New Prosperity copper-gold mine after a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency-appointed panel completed its review. According to Taseko, opponents “provided input on draft conditions for the decision statement.”

Taseko further claimed that “the minister relied on this information to conclude that the project was likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The lawsuit doesn’t name Aglukkaq as a defendant. Taseko’s allegations haven’t been proven in court.

Months before Aglukkaq’s decision, Taseko stated that the environmental review considered a tailings storage design “completely different” from the company’s proposal.

Aglukkaq, the first Inuk to be appointed to cabinet, served two terms as MP for Nunavut until her defeat in last October’s federal election. She had previously served four years in the territorial legislature.

Located in the Kitikmeot region of western Nunavut, TMAC’s Hope Bay project has a 2015 pre-feasibility study that foresees a 20-year mine life producing 3.2 million gold ounces.

In his February announcement, TMAC executive chairperson Terry MacGibbon said, “In addition to her federal government experience, Ms. Aglukkaq has broad public government exposure, including international diplomatic experience as a minister of the Arctic Council (2012-2015), a leading inter-governmental forum promoting co-operation, co-ordination and interaction among the arctic states, arctic indigenous communities and other arctic inhabitants on common arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection.” She has also served on the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Aglukkaq’s TMAC board appointment took effect February 25, exactly two years after she issued her New Prosperity decision.

How Long Blues

February 23rd, 2016

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

by Greg Klein

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

Mineral explorers in Canada generally wait longer than before for permits, the Fraser Institute reports.
Chart: The Fraser Institute

A country’s mineral output doesn’t necessarily correspond to its geological endowment, a new study reminds us. Other factors also play a role, among them exploration permitting. In many parts of Canada, that early but crucial step towards finding a new mine faces growing wait times, questionable transparency and increasing uncertainty. Those are some of the findings of a Fraser Institute study released February 23. The first-time survey, focusing on this one issue and limited to Canadian jurisdictions, arrives a week before the institute’s annual global survey of miners and explorers.

“This is a topic for which we’ve received feedback both in previous years’ surveys and in conversations we’ve had with explorers, and it’s something they consistently note to us as a growing problem,” says Taylor Jackson, an institute policy analyst and report co-author along with Kenneth Green.

It’s a growing problem in more ways than one. But there’s considerable variation between some jurisdictions, with Saskatchewan shining brightly while Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut look relatively gloomy. And although it’s slowing, Canadian permitting’s still faster than the global average.

Survey answers came from 122 people reporting on 10 jurisdictions. (Alberta, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island drew too few responses to be included.) Five jurisdictions had the majority saying that permitting times had lengthened over the last decade. Those who reported shorter wait times were the minority. But a slim majority of Newfoundland and Labrador respondents (56%) said wait times had stayed the same.

Saskatchewan, which ranked #2 in last year’s global survey, drew the smallest proportion of complaints (27%) about lengthening wait times.

Of Canada’s three biggest exploration targets, Ontario provoked more wait time pessimism than British Columbia or Quebec. Fourteen percent of Ontario explorers forecast waits of 11 to 14 months, compared to B.C.’s 2% and Quebec’s 3%. Another 7% of Ontario explorers anticipated waiting over two years for a permit, compared to another 2% in B.C. and 3% in Quebec.

The Fraser Institute looks at exploration permit wait times across Canada

A 1983 study found that mineral production in Western countries correlated poorly with geological riches. More recently, about 60% of Fraser Institute respondents say
they base their investment decisions on geology. The rest
cite policy-related factors. Image: The Fraser Institute

Transparency arises as another critical issue. “When explorers do not understand what the rules are or how they are applied, the result can be a deterrent to investment,” the report states.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan drew the highest proportions of respondents (50% and 47% respectively) saying the jurisdiction’s transparency actually encourages exploration. Moreover, the results were mostly positive when combining those who said a jurisdiction’s transparency encourages exploration with those who at least said that transparency concerns didn’t create a deterrent. Only the NWT flunked that one with a dismal 31%, while neighbouring Nunavut got 50%.

Saskatchewan came out on top with 94%, followed by New Brunswick (83%), Newfoundland and Labrador (78%) and Quebec (71%).

Although respondents remained confidential, they weren’t given the chance to express open-ended comments, as the institute’s global survey allows. Jackson says that could change if the survey’s repeated in future years.

The next time we might open it up to Australia and U.S. and get some feedback on how Australian and American states are performing, with the idea of determining who’s got the best practices and make some policy recommendations for Canada.—Taylor Jackson, Fraser Institute policy analyst and report co-author

Nor does the study report specific problems or make recommendations. This initial effort focused on “identifying which jurisdictions are performing well and which are not,” he explains. “The next time we might open it up to Australia and U.S. and get some feedback on how Australian and American states are performing, with the idea of determining who’s got the best practices and make some policy recommendations for Canada.”

Confidentiality’s the key to companies’ candour. So a similar survey about mine permitting would be problematic, Jackson points out. With mine proposals far fewer than exploration projects, governments might suss out who said what.

“But this is an issue that we would like to look at,” he says. “I don’t know if we’d do it in a survey form but it’s certainly an issue for setting up a mine as well.”

Two weeks ago Taseko Mines TSX:TKO launched a lawsuit alleging serious breaches of transparency in the federal process that rejected the company’s proposed New Prosperity mine. Pacific Booker Minerals TSXV:BKM has filed Freedom of Information requests with the B.C. government regarding its rejection of the proposed Morrison mine. The company had previously taken the province to court over the matter.

The institute’s study follows a January report from the Northern Policy Institute examining why “a major mining boom” with nine potential operations in northwestern Ontario failed to materialize.

Do studies like these influence the people who matter?

“I do know that decision-makers are listening to what’s said in the survey,” Jackson responds. “I can say that about the broader mining survey. We have some general examples where politicians have come and talked to us and we’ve seen policy reform later. They take the survey and it helps them identify which areas they’re performing poorly in, so I think they are listening. I don’t know if the message gets across all the time but I would say they are listening.”

Here are Canada’s rankings from last year’s international survey, with their global position in parentheses:

  • Saskatchewan (2)
  • Manitoba (4)
  • Quebec (6)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (8)
  • Yukon (9)
  • Northwest Territories (15)
  • New Brunswick (21)
  • Alberta (22)
  • Ontario (23)
  • British Columbia (28)
  • Nunavut (29)
  • Nova Scotia (42)

PEI wasn’t included. The institute’s 2015 global survey comes out March 1.

Download Permit Times for Mining Exploration: How Long Are They?

Taseko sues Ottawa

February 12th, 2016

B.C. miner says feds favoured opponents before rejecting New Prosperity

by Greg Klein

The Canadian government acted unlawfully to reject a mine proposal, according to a lawsuit filed February 11 by Taseko Mines TSX:TKO. Senior federal officials hosted undisclosed meetings with project opponents, showed them draft documents and allowed them to provide submissions that weren’t divulged to the company or public, Taseko maintains. Canada’s environment minister and federal cabinet relied on those submissions in their decision to reject New Prosperity, a $1.5-billion copper-gold open pit proposed for south-central British Columbia, the company further stated.

At least some of the federal authorities involved “knew that their actions or omissions were unlawful,” according to the claim.

B.C. miner says feds favoured opponents before rejecting proposal

Named as defendants are Canada’s Attorney General and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Those allegedly involved include former environment minister Leona Aglukkaq, her parliamentary secretary, five deputy or former deputy ministers, as well as the president and four employees of the CEAA.

Although the alleged actions would have happened while the Conservatives held office, the new Liberal government “would be responsible for the acts of the previous government in our view,” Taseko counsel John J.L. Hunter tells ResourceClips.com.

Damages weren’t specified. “There have been an awful lot of dollars spent on this that have gone to naught,” Hunter says—over $130 million according to the document.

Taseko operates Canada’s second-largest open pit, the Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine, also in south-central B.C., in which the company holds a 75% stake.

New Prosperity, on the other hand, has been a focus of strong native opposition. A redesign of a former project that passed the provincial assessment but met federal rejection in 2010, New Prosperity added $300 million to the capex to move its tailings facility and avoid draining a 118-hectare lake. The proposal underwent a two-year review that included 24 days of public hearings in 2013. A CEAA-appointed panel found significant adverse environmental effects in three areas. But the panel “recommended mitigation measures to address the anticipated adverse environmental effects on Tsilqot’in archeological and historical resources,” Taseko’s claim states.

Nevertheless rejection came from the minister and cabinet in late February 2014. Tsilhqot’in chiefs said the 2010 and 2014 decisions resulted from “an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.”

Taseko claims that, between the panel completing its report and the feds announcing their decision, senior officials including deputy ministers and Aglukkaq’s parliamentary secretary held undisclosed meetings with opponents and accepted their written submissions. The company says its requests to attend any such meetings and review additional input were rebuffed. The last few meetings took place just two weeks before Aglukkaq released her decision, Taseko alleges, and opponents “provided input on draft conditions for the decision statement.”

[The 2010 and 2014 decisions resulted from] an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.—Tsilhqot’in chiefs comment
on the proposal’s rejection

The company learned of the meetings through Facebook, spokesperson Brian Battison told ResourceClips.com.

Among previous complaints from Taseko, the company says Natural Resources Canada studied a tailings storage design different from the proposed plan. The CEAA included the NRC study in its review. That allegation will be among procedural and fairness concerns examined by two judicial reviews that Taseko has already launched.

“There’s some overlap in the claims but the remedies that could be obtained are quite different from judicial review and from civil action,” Hunter explains. He anticipates the judicial reviews being heard this year but the lawsuit will likely take longer to come to court.

The defendants have yet to respond to Taseko’s allegations, which haven’t been proven.

The lawsuit opens a new chapter in a long, discouraging tale. But earlier this month the Mining Association of Canada lauded efforts that have brought about 265 active agreements between miners and native communities, as well as joint ventures, training, employment and other collaboration. “These serve as a testament to the ongoing development of progressive relationships between mining companies and aboriginal communities,” commented MAC president/CEO Pierre Gratton.

The group called for more jurisdictions to adopt government revenue-sharing programs for native bands affected by mining projects. B.C. did so in 2010, but that failed to sway the Tsilhqot’in National Government. Quebec, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the three territories have also implemented revenue-sharing for natives.

While Taseko’s lawsuit attempts to hold the current government accountable for alleged actions before it came to power, the Liberals campaigned on a promise to overhaul the environmental review process. The new regime’s stated goal is to “ensure that decisions are based on science, facts and evidence, and serve the public’s interest.”

January 20th, 2015

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Year in review

December 23rd, 2014

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2014

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Another difficult year notwithstanding, the resource sector failed to meet its apocalyptic doom. With a mixed bag of good, bad and quirky news, ResourceClips.com looks at some of the stories that helped characterize 2014.

Mount Polley to the breach

Even British Columbia’s environment minister called it a disaster. The August tailings dam collapse at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley copper-gold mine presented Canada’s mining industry with its own Exxon Valdez as a river of effluent, later estimated by the company at 24.4 million cubic metres, poured into the once-pristine Quesnel Lake watershed.

The dam’s original engineer was quick to disassociate itself. The current engineer and Imperial each implied the other might be at fault. There were suggestions that the company and the province should have known something was wrong as far back as 2010.

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2014

B.C. appointed a panel of engineers to investigate. B.C.’s Inspector of Mines began a separate investigation. And B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner launched its own investigation—into the government.

B.C. also ordered third-party inspections of 98 tailings facilities at current and former mines. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requested companies report on their uranium tailings facilities.

Alaskans, meanwhile, questioned whether B.C. had the wherewithal to prevent downstream pollution from potential mines in the province’s northwest. A Vancouver Sun study found that the BC Liberal government cut mine inspections by more than half since coming to power in 2001.

Imperial has so far committed $67.4 million towards the disaster. In late December the company announced the sale of a 93-kilometre transmission line extension to the government-owned BC Hydro for $52 million.

B.C.’s performance as a mining jurisdiction

Mount Polley’s shutdown brings to mind the governing BC Liberals’ frequent reminder that more mines closed than opened when the NDP held power. So how’s the province doing under the current regime? According to a list provided by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, seven mines opened since 2001, when the BC Liberals gained power, while five shut down. One mine closed and re-opened. Another seven mines opened and closed. At least one omission in the last category, however, was Treasure Mountain which opened, closed, re-opened and re-closed.

Of course metal and coal prices play a crucial role. But during that period permitting problems plagued other potential operations, like Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) New Prosperity gold-copper project and Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum project. Both were refused environmental permits, arguably on non-environmental grounds—New Prosperity by the feds and Morrison by the province.

On a more positive note, Imperial has its Red Chris copper-gold mine now in development. (Please get it right this time.) Seabridge Gold TSX:SEA won provincial environmental approval in July and federal approval in December for Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM), which the company says hosts “one of the largest undeveloped gold and copper reserves in the world.”

An engineering marvel puts Cigar Lake in operation

Evidently the mining industry calls for optimism and perseverance in abundance. That, along with innovation, is what it took for Cameco Corp TSX:CCO to finally bring its Cigar Lake uranium project into production in March. Encouraging the heroic endeavour is an ore grade 100 times the world average, suggesting that high grade is the mother of invention.

The Saskatchewan mine’s 33-year saga began with a 1981 discovery, then continued with a number of setbacks that stalled construction. Even after the mine’s widely celebrated opening, Cigar Lake shut down from mid-July to early September for remedial freezing. Majority-owner Cameco injects and freezes a brine solution around the rock body to prevent flooding through the Athabasca sandstone. Water jet boring then pummels the ore into a slurry.

But the company’s determination seems at odds with uranium’s price. When a Scotiabank analyst asked why Cameco was bringing new uranium into an oversupplied market, president/CEO Tim Gitzel replied, “We need the pounds. We’ve got sales commitments for those pounds.”

The uranium price tease

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2014

Chart: Ux Consulting

Among the most vociferous prophets of a new uranium order, Paladin Energy TSX:PDN managing director/CEO John Borshoff keeps revising his gotta-happen-soon predictions of rising prices. He’s not the only one, so Borshoff was probably more frustrated than embarrassed when uranium once again proved him wrong.

The recalcitrant commodity seemed to perk up in early August, with a spot price indicator that rose 25% by late October. A nearly 90-degree ascent to $44 by mid-November seemed to justify Borshoff’s outlook. Alas, fickle uranium let down its believers, along with its price.

Borshoff’s boosterism, however, is backed up by others including Cameco’s Gitzel and David Talbot of Dundee Capital Markets, who in November stated, “We have always said, just like in 2006-2007, when [longer-term] contracting begins and the price moves, it will move fast.”

Next Page 1 | 2

Urban dependence

November 6th, 2014

The livelihood of city dwellers relies more on resource industries than many people realize

by Greg Klein

People in Dawson Creek, Sudbury and Val-d’Or get it. But what about those living in larger, southern Canadian cities like Vancouver? How many people realize how much we depend on resource extraction, and not just for the commodities we consume? As a new report points out, Greater Vancouver’s economy relies heavily on British Columbia’s resource industries.

That’s the message of Community Impacts: Exploring the Natural Resource Sector’s Economic Impact on B.C., Its Regions and Urban Centres. The study was released last month by Resource Works, which considers the campaigns for B.C.’s November 15 municipal elections an opportunity to influence public debate.

The livelihood of city dwellers relies more on resource industries than many people realize

Just how far removed is Vancouver
from British Columbia’s resource industries?

Even so, Resource Works executive director Stewart Muir says the organization’s “not choosing candidates.” Calling the study impartial, he tells ResourceClips.com, “We don’t believe it’s political in itself.”

The non-profit group was founded in March with seed money from the Business Council of British Columbia. It’s now looking for donations from individuals and organizations, he says.

The group is backed by an advisory board representing “a coalition of people who would advise and, through their participation, show their support for what we’re trying to do. They include leaders from first nations, labour, business, multicultural groups, academia and the environmental movement. They meet quarterly, advise us and are central to our success.”

Report author Peter Severinson emphasizes his study is illustrative, not representative. Without trying to estimate the full extent of economic impacts, his research presents some examples that might otherwise be overlooked or taken for granted. The three-part study, which underwent independent academic reviews, evaluated the impact of B.C.’s top three resource industries of forestry, mining, and oil and gas.

Severinson used BC Stats data to look at province-wide impacts, while using industrial property assessments to gauge the sector’s regional prominence. Part three focuses on eight Greater Vancouver municipalities “where the connection with the resource sector is least obvious.”

There, Severinson evaluated the spending of seven companies: Catalyst Paper TSX:CYT, Copper Mountain Mining TSX:CUM, Encana Corp TSX:ECA, New Gold TSX:NGD, Taseko Mines TSX:TKO, Teck Resources TSX:TCK.A and TCK.B, and Western Forest Products TSX:WEF. Alberta-headquartered Encana made the list due to its heavy B.C. expenditures.

Again, this approach gives illustrative examples that might otherwise be overlooked, not a fully representative study. “The economic impact of the entire resource sector will be greater than the impacts described in this report,” Severinson writes.

Those seven companies alone poured $1.3 billion into Greater Vancouver last year. More than half, $732 million, went to the city of Vancouver itself, mostly to “professional service providers including lawyers, accountants, engineers, consultants and educators.” That’s in a city whose incumbent mayor opposes local pipeline expansion.

Next door, the municipality of Burnaby got $41.6 million from the seven companies. Burnaby’s entire city council sides with Vancouver’s mayor on pipeline expansion.

North Vancouver, a generally affluent mountainside suburb that sometimes approximates an urban ecotopia, got $162 million last year. Surrey, a ’burb that’s forecast to overtake Vancouver’s population, got $230 million. Richmond, where large new homes contrast with the remaining farmland, got $63 million.

As for Greater Vancouver’s Tri-Cities, Coquitlam got $13 million in 2013, Port Coquitlam got $19 million and even little Port Moody got $8 million.

Muir points to the “profound effect on the Vancouver economy” of an estimated 800 to 1,200 mining and mineral exploration companies headquartered in the city. “What we’ve got now is a real sense of what just seven companies can do in a year in terms of local impacts. What if next time we study 50 companies and look at their impact?”

With a $22.2-billion GDP contribution that took up nearly 12% of the provincial total, resources make up B.C.’s second-largest sector after real estate and leasing. 2010 numbers show about 184,000 jobs representing one-tenth of B.C.’s total jobs come from resources, the study points out. And that’s “only counting those jobs that are either directly within resource industries or that can be closely tied to outputs from those industries.”

We’ve got a high-tech economy because we’ve got a resource economy. And it’s also a green economy because these environmental technicians and people working to protect the environment and improve practices—guess what they’re doing? They’re doing resource jobs to protect the environment.—Stewart Muir, executive director
of Resource Works

So while people in Dawson Creek, Sudbury and Val-d’Or need no explanation, the value of resources can be lost on those living in bigger southern cities. Muir talks of “a divide between the real economy and what lots of people, for good reasons, wish the economy was. The economy we see people wishing for is high tech and green. It’s an economy that’s modern and a departure from the past. And for a lot of people, that’s an economy that’s post-resources.”

But, he says, of the FP 500’s top 50 companies, “15 of them are resource companies. And those 15 have 2013 revenues of almost $300 billion, which means they produce more revenue than all the finance, banking and insurance companies in the top 50.”

Nor does the resource economy fit another misconception.

“We see in British Columbia $250 million a year in R&D spending for mining and petroleum,” he says, citing a recent report from B.C. Stats. “That report is waved around by people who say we need this high-tech economy to replace the resource economy. But I look at the same data and say we’ve got a high-tech economy because we’ve got a resource economy. And it’s also a green economy because these environmental technicians and people working to protect the environment and improve practices—guess what they’re doing? They’re doing resource jobs to protect the environment.”

Muir portrays this high-tech, green resource economy as “a way of being a leader on the world stage. We can continue to export our regulatory know-how, our technical know-how, our strong ability to raise capital for mining projects, and develop not just our own resources but help other countries develop theirs responsibly. That’s modern Canada.”

What’s next for Resource Works? The group hopes to produce two to four papers per year, similar in substance to Community Impacts. A backgrounder on the B.C. government’s proposed LNG-backed Prosperity Fund will look at royalty schemes in Alaska, Alberta, Norway and Kuwait. Slated for December release is a detailed report resulting from eight discussion sessions involving 120 people with wide-ranging views on resources. The group also plans to present its findings to municipal council meetings across the province.

“Our most important issue is how the environment and the economy concerns the average person,” Muir says. “That’s where we have this great disconnect today and that’s where the work is needed.”

Not surprisingly, the non-profit hopes for more support from industry. “Our movement is directed at people who aren’t in the resource industries but we do need people who already get it, who already see the linkages that validate our work.”

Download Community Impacts: Exploring the Natural Resource Sector’s Economic Impact on B.C., Its Regions and Urban Centres.

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Taseko says land claims ruling shows New Prosperity outside aboriginal territory

June 26th, 2014

by Greg Klein | June 26, 2014

While the June 26 Supreme Court of Canada land claims ruling has been described as a setback for some resource projects, one British Columbia mining company welcomes it. Taseko Mines TSX:TKO says the decision removes “any doubt about aboriginal title in the area” of its New Prosperity copper-gold project.

New Prosperity is the only proposed mine in B.C. that people know for sure is not in an area of aboriginal title.—Taseko Mines president/CEO
Russell Hallbauer

The proposed mine has been bitterly opposed by leaders of the six-band Tsilhqot’in National Government, the beneficiaries of what’s been described as Canada’s most important native rights case. The decision grants the Tsihqot’in title to 1,750 square kilometres in central B.C. But, according to a statement from Taseko president/CEO Russell Hallbauer, the ruling confirms that his company’s proposal “is located in an area where aboriginal title does not exist. As such, New Prosperity is the only proposed mine in B.C. that people know for sure is not in an area of aboriginal title.”

“Now that these matters have been settled, the opportunity exists for a constructive and mutually beneficial way forward for the New Prosperity project,” he added. “We welcome and look forward to the opportunity to re-establish a positive dialogue with the six Tsilhqot’in bands represented by the Tsilhqot’in National Government about New Prosperity and its potential to assist them with advancing community priorities.”

In the past Tsilhqot’in leaders have said the company has not consulted them properly, while Taseko countered that the chiefs were unwilling to talk. Last February the federal government rejected the $1.1-billion proposal following a negative environmental review. Taseko then requested a federal judicial review, claiming the environmental panel studied a tailings model that differed radically from that proposed by the company.

The rejection was Taseko’s second. The company’s original mine plan met federal rejection in November 2010. Taseko returned with a $300-million revision that would prevent draining the 118-hectare Fish Lake, the focus of native opposition.

North of New Prosperity, Taseko operates the Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine, the second-largest copper open pit in Canada and the largest employer in B.C.’s Cariboo region.

While the Supreme Court ruling gives the Tsilhqot’in greater control over their 1,750-square-kilometre territory, the natives lack absolute power to reject resource projects that show “a compelling and substantial public interest,” according to the decision. The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia emphasized the decision “confirmed that provincial laws and regulations will continue to apply in the Tsilhqot’in Nation aboriginal title area, subject to section 35 of the Constitution Act.” AME BC called the ruling “a complex and precedent-setting case that will require further review.”

Likewise the Mining Association of B.C. said it’s reviewing the decision, which “provides certainty and clarification around aboriginal title and the application of provincial law and regulation on the land base.”

Pointing out that mining comprises B.C.’s largest private sector employer of natives, MABC president/CEO Karina Briño added that “numerous aboriginal-owned suppliers and contractors work collaboratively with, and benefit from, the mining industry. In addition to employment opportunities, the mining industry also recognizes the importance of revenue sharing agreements between the provincial government and aboriginal communities.”

Other commentators have suggested, however, that the ruling can bolster native opposition to development.

Read more about New Prosperity here and here.