By James Hyland
Vancouver, Canada – January 22, 2022 – In a landmark announcement at the Association of Mineral Explorers (AME) Roundup 2024 today in Vancouver, Premier David Eby unveiled Phase 1 of British Columbia’s pioneering Critical Mineral Strategy. This bold initiative marks a significant step towards building a sustainable and clean economy, aligning closely with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Premier Eby’s address highlighted British Columbia’s unique position as a “stable, free, democratic, high-standard producer of the metals and minerals needed to battle climate change.” He emphasized the critical role of the province’s resource workers, especially miners, in the global fight against climate change, pledging robust support for them and their families.
Critical minerals like copper, nickel, and molybdenum are at the heart of clean energy technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries. British Columbia’s rich deposits of these minerals position it as a key player in providing the necessary components for a greener future.
The first phase of this strategy introduces 11 key actions, including the establishment of a Critical Minerals Project Advancement Office to expedite mineral projects and leverage federal funding opportunities. A cutting-edge B.C. critical minerals atlas will be developed to provide up-to-date geoscience data, aiding exploration and land-use planning.
In response to the announcement, Keerit Jutla, AME President & CEO stated: “We welcomed the Premier to AME Roundup 2024, where he offered enhanced support for the mineral exploration sector through the first phase of a critical minerals strategy. The government’s continued investment in geoscience is key to attracting mineral exploration investment and unlocking further potential. We appreciate the government’s acknowledgement that more action is required to facilitate the development of new critical mineral projects, in particular, it is imperative that greater emphasis is placed on competitiveness and the fiscal and regulatory policies that will attract investment in mineral exploration and mine development. We eagerly await further details. In the meantime, our members will work closely with the Critical Minerals Project Advancement Office to continue advocating for additional support on permitting and regulatory processes and guidance on collaboration with First Nations.”Keerit Jutla, AME President & CEO
A significant aspect of this strategy is the alignment of Provincial and First Nations Energy and Mining Council critical minerals strategies. This includes continued engagement with First Nations across the province and collaborative efforts to identify and advance critical mineral infrastructure, such as the North Coast Transmission Line. These efforts are backed by a substantial $36-billion BC Hydro capital plan.
The strategy also focuses on maintaining the highest environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. The new Energy and Mines Digital Trust project aims to increase transparency in the mining sector, particularly regarding the production processes.
Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, underscored the importance of critical minerals in the transition to clean energy. “With rich mineral deposits, B.C. has a generational opportunity to drive growth and create new jobs,” she stated.Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
Beyond mining, the strategy aims to bolster the sector by expanding downstream opportunities like processing, manufacturing, and battery recycling, thereby reintegrating mined materials into the supply chain.
The strategy also includes plans to support First Nations participation in projects, along with economic analysis and capacity-building initiatives. Ensuring alignment with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a key component of the strategy’s future expansion.
Premier Eby also shared impressive statistics from the sector, including a significant increase in mineral-exploration expenditure and mining production value since 2018. Notably, B.C. has achieved a 52% reduction in the backlog of exploration permits, streamlining the permitting process.
Quick facts about B.C.’s mining sector reveal its significant impact: employing over 35,000 workers, contributing $7.3 billion to the GDP, and being a major producer of copper and molybdenum. The sector is also recognized for its low carbon footprint.
A critical minerals advisory committee, co-chaired by representatives of the First Nations Leadership Council and B.C., with diverse expertise in critical minerals and natural resource stewardship, has been established to guide the strategy’s development.
This new strategy positions B.C. at the forefront of sustainable and responsible mineral exploration and development, a critical step towards a cleaner and more prosperous future.