By Bryan Cox, President and CEO
Mining Association of BC
In the global mining industry, when it comes to competitiveness, we know there are a lot of forces at play. Mining companies do not set the price at which their goods are sold; they are set by the global commodity market, regardless of the cost of production within any given jurisdiction. Commodity prices go up and down, while the cost of doing business, and trade disputes can have lasting impacts on our sector. Mining companies in B.C. have become incredibly skilled over the years in mitigating the impacts, however, they remain uniquely susceptible a multitude of forces over which they have little or no control.
In addition to being sensitive to market volatility, mining projects are capital-intensive, multi-year commitments that span decades. From exploration to mine development and operation, and ultimately remediation, investor confidence is critical to making the big decision to initially invest, and continue to invest over many years, in a mining project.
While there are many forces out of our control, there are areas within our control that we can focus on and advocate for. In the mining industry, we call them the three C’s: clarity, consistency and coordination in our regulatory system. Global investors are paying close attention to B.C.’s regulatory climate to determine if the province is the best place to deploy their mining investment.
The mining industry benefits when the rules and regulations that govern the sector are clear. Clarity around processes and regulations ensures that mining projects can be structured successfully. More than that, these rules, regulations and processes need to be applied consistently and fairly. Without consistency, investors are unable to predict how the jurisdiction may react and this puts project planning at risk. Lastly, mining projects thrive where there is coordination between various levels of government, clear regulations and timelines, and timely environmental assessments and permitting processes.
If any of these three C’s are missing, then capital investments are at risk. This not only costs jobs and investment dollars flowing into the province, it also sends a signal to the international community that B.C. is not an attractive place to invest. Together, clarity, consistency and coordination make a jurisdiction a healthy place to invest, regardless of external forces beyond our control.
The provincial government is currently engaged in several reviews of the regulatory system that impact the mining industry, including Professional Reliance and Environmental Assessment Revitalization. It is essential that government prioritize the three C’s so companies can feel confident to make significant investment decisions in projects and existing operations that benefit our communities, residents and economy. B.C. mining operations currently employ over 10,000 British Columbians and create more than 20,000 jobs in the supply and service sector. These are family supporting jobs, many of which are located in the lower mainland.
B.C. has many advantages: an endowment of natural resources, a reliable and secure infrastructure, a world-class highly skilled workforce and ports that are strategically located for international markets. MABC will continue to advocate on the mining industry’s behalf to ensure that all levels of government truly understand that a strong mining industry means a strong B.C. We are “one province; one economy” so let’s work together to ensure that B.C. maintains our competitive advantage and reputation as a safe harbour for investment to deliver shared prosperity for all British Columbians.