By Michael Goehring
Originally Published in Business in Vancouver
British Columbia’s miners are innovators. From the invention of the walkie-talkie by Donald Hings at the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Co. in Trail in 1937 to today’s use of artificial intelligence and machine learning at our province’s mine sites, British Columbia’s miners continue to lead the world in the development and use of advanced
technology in Canada’s natural resource sector.
The tech boom in British Columbia is in part being driven by our foundational resource industries and led by B.C. mining. For example, B.C. mining companies use autonomous equipment and automated technology to keep workers out of hazardous environments, reduce carbon emissions and increase operational effectiveness. Drone technology is being used to provide real-time aerial footage for mine site maintenance, monitoring and emergency response, and GPS technology is supporting precision drilling. Virtual reality is enhancing consultation with communities and Indigenous nations, by allowing the 3D visualization of future mine sites on the land.
Over 30,000 British Columbians are employed directly and indirectly in the mining sector, which contributed an es-
timated $9.9 billion to the B.C. economy while generating economic spinoffs in local communities throughout the province. The average annual pay for a mining worker exceeds $117,000, higher than the forestry, manufacturing, finance and construction sectors. Jobs in the mining sector continue to be more diverse, higher skilled and better compensated. This is due in large part to the increasing role that technology is playing in mining.
But mining isn’t just supporting jobs and communities in rural British Columbia. There are over 1,200 companies located in Lower Mainland municipalities that benefit from more than $460 million in annual spending by B.C.’s operating mines. Many of these companies, from Abbotsford to West Vancouver, are providing highly engineered technology, applications and artificial intelligence that ensure B.C.’s modern mines are digitally connected and optimized in every respect, including safety, productivity and environmental performance.
B.C.’s mining industry is a driving force in the development of the Lower Mainland technology sector and across the province. British Columbians have every reason to be proud of our province’s high-tech mining industry for the key role it plays in our economy and our collective role in the world’s transition to a lower-
carbon economy. As Canada’s largest producer of copper and steelmaking coal, our mines help provide the copper needed for electric cars, and the steelmaking coal required to build green infrastructure such as public transit and wind turbines. Due to B.C.’s abundant clean energy, our coal and copper are amongst the lowest greenhouse-gas-
intensive products in the world.
Yet in order to maintain our industry’s competitiveness and long-term viability, and realize its full economic potential, the mining sector needs a clear, consistent and co-ordinated regulatory framework that provides support for industry to innovate and invest in projects that will fuel economic growth and innovation for generations.
Together with our partners in the high-tech industry, along with government, labour and local and Indigenous communities, the Mining Association of BC will continue to advocate for policy that will ensure B.C. remains a world-class mining jurisdiction for the benefit of all British Columbians.