Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett (right) visits ironworkers at Red Chris Mine in northwestern B.C. The northwest transmission line is to be completed this year

B.C. still attractive to miners, minister says

Prosperity mine rejection not being held against province, but land claim uncertainty still a shadow over investment for B.C.

Industry representatives from around the world are disappointed in the latest rejected mine in B.C., but they’re not taking it out on the provincial government, Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett says.

Bennett started his week in Toronto at the Prospectors and Development Association convention, pitching B.C.’s efforts to make B.C. more attractive to mining investment. He said delegates were disappointed to hear that Taseko Mines’ proposal to develop a copper-gold deposit near Williams Lake.

“People don’t associate that decision with the B.C. government, they associate it with the federal government, and I think people here are more optimistic than I expected,” Bennett said in a phone interview from Toronto.

With 30,000 delegates, the convention is the largest industry gathering in the world. Bennett promoted the construction of the Northwest Transmission Line, bringing electricity to the remote region north of Terrace. To be completed this summer, the line will enable operation of the Red Chris copper-gold mine near Iskut.

Of the 20 major mine proposals currently in the B.C. environmental assessment process, five are in the northwest.

Bennett said one of the main difficulties for junior mining companies is attracting financing for projects that take many years to develop and produce returns.

The annual Fraser Institute global survey of mining companies was released at the convention. Alberta was viewed as the most attractive jurisdiction in Canada for mining, and third in the world, based on taxation, legal system and certainty around land claims.

B.C.’s ranking in the survey went from 31st to 32nd in the world, a measure of its aboriginal relations climate.

Gavin Dirom, president of the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C., said the province has improved in the ranking over the past five years, along with Alberta and Nunavut.


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