The mining industry is worth $8.3 billion to B.C.’s economy and supports thousands of well-paying, secure jobs for families in communities throughout our province.
Mining builds communities. All across British Columbia, you will find communities sustained by mining projects. Today, the average salary in the mining industry is more than C$100,000, which provides stability and opportunity to thousands of families.
Mining also employs more First Nations people than any other industry in Canada. Training partnerships are ensuring that First Nations workers have the skills they need to take advantage of new job opportunities. For example, nearly one quarter of workers at the recently opened New Afton mine near Kamloops are participants in the B.C. Aboriginal Mine Training Association program.
B.C. is the first province in Canada to share direct provincial mining tax revenue generated from new mines or mine expansions with First Nations. This provides a direct link to the revenues the Province receives from mine development. If mineral tax revenues for a specific project increase, so do the benefits to First Nations and vice versa. Resource revenue-sharing is not a cost to industry. This is a commitment to sharing revenue that British Columbia will receive from new major mine developments. B.C. will consider revenue-sharing wherever there are new major mining projects or major expansions that will result in new provincial mineral tax revenue.
There are 19 major mines in British Columbia which provide well-paying, family-supporting jobs in communities all across the province. Through the BC Jobs Plan, our government is working to support new mining opportunities throughout British Columbia and has set a goal of eight new mines and nine major mine expansions by 2015. We are already more than halfway towards meeting this goal with two new major mines in production, five more either permitted or under construction and six major expansions of existing mines approved.
This progress is critically important for communities and families. For example, the New Afton Mine, which opened in June 2012 near Kamloops, employs 405 full-time workers, many of them First Nations, and the Mount Milligan Mine, which just started production, will employ 1,350 people.
British Columbia is a global leader in mining and mineral production, and our mining companies are the best in the world. In Canada, we are the single-largest exporter of coal, the largest producer of copper and the only producer of molybdenum. In addition, British Columbia mining companies have set the global standard for environmental responsibility in mines here and around the world.
Mine development and mineral exploration has been a cornerstone of our economy for generations. It takes place in every region of the province and ranges from small, one-person operations to billion-dollar investment projects.
With mineral and coal reserves hidden underground, access to land is essential to their discovery and development. Our government is working with communities, First Nations, industry and others to maintain security of tenure and access to land for mineral exploration.
Through the BC Jobs Plan, our government has committed to ensuring that regulatory processes are smarter and more efficient while maintaining high safety and environmental standards. This includes developing a coordinated, transparent permitting and approval process with clear timelines for all industrial projects, including mineral exploration and mine developments.
Our government also committed C$24 million to cut the backlog in government permitting and approvals and reduce the average turnaround time for Notices of Work. As of June 2013, the average turnaround time is 65 days – a huge reduction from the average of 110 days in 2011.
Last month, our government also took steps to make the exploration permitting process more efficient by authorizing some low-risk activities on projects where a Mines Act permit has already been granted.
As we continue to take steps to build on our competitive advantage in the mineral exploration and mining sectors, we will also continue to promote British Columbia as the best choice for potential investors. B.C. competes with jurisdictions worldwide, and one of our biggest assets is stability – we have a stable political climate, a steady supply of goods and services, vast mineral reserves, and a fiscally responsible government.
As our mineral exploration and mining sectors continue to grow, the industry will need skilled workers in several key occupations including machinery and transportation equipment mechanics, primary production workers and vehicle drivers. In fact, according to the provincially funded BC Mining HR Task Force’s report “British Columbia Hiring Requirements and Available Talent Forecasts” released in September, it is projected that the mining sector will have 16,700 direct job openings from 2012 to 2022.
To meet this growing need, our government is investing in skills training in the mining sector and institutions across B.C. are working with provincial industries to ensure that students have access to programs at all levels, whether their career choices require trades certification or a professional degree.
Additionally, more than C$1 million has been committed to support the Mineral Exploration and Mining Industry Labour Shortage Task Force, which coordinates, develops and implements measures to ensure the mining industry in B.C. has the human resources it needs to grow and move forward.
Mining builds communities and mining has helped build British Columbia. We are fortunate to have an exploration and mining industry that is globally competitive due to our location and wealth of resources, and our government is committed to continuing to support and implement policies to ensure British Columbia remains a desirable place explore and develop mineral resources.
The Hon. Bill Bennett was appointed minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas and Minister Responsible for Core Review June 10. He was re-elected for a fourth term as MLA for Kootenay East in 2013.