A 19th Century placer miner uses a rocker box to search for gold. Placer mining has become mechanized and remains an active industry in B.C.

Minister eyes fee break for small-scale miners

The B.C. government has heard the protests and is re-thinking its plan, Mines Minister Bill Bennett says

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has heard the protests and is re-thinking its plan to impose new fees on placer mining operations, Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett says.

In an interview to mark Mining Week in B.C., Bennett said he has heard the criticism from the mining industry about introducing permit fees under the Mines Act that could apply to all mining activities, including placer mines that search for gold and metal ores in the loose rock around rivers.

“I’m determined to make sure that we’re not discouraging the junior level exploration with fees,” Bennett said. “That’s certainly my goal, that they wouldn’t be charged any fees, but we’re going to have to see where this settles out.”

Placer mining has come a long way from its roots in the waves of gold fever that swept over the Fraser Canyon, the Cariboo and the Klondike in Yukon. Larger placer mines can expect to pay for licensing and regulatory costs of their industry, as forest and other industries do on Crown land, Bennett said.

When the fees were proposed in February, the industry response was swift and negative. NDP mines critic Scott Fraser said he was getting letters as soon as the legislation was presented, and small operators were the most worried.

“They’ll get hit by this, and according to them, they’ll be pushed right off their claims,” Fraser said.

The larger picture of B.C. mining remains bright, Bennett said. Red Chris copper and gold mine is set to open this summer with the completion of a new electrical transmission line to northwestern B.C.

Copper Mountain near Princeton and Mount Milligan north of Prince George are up and producing metal ore, adding to mine activity that has tripled in terms of value to the economy since 2001.

Slumping prices for metallurgical coal have reversed some of the recent growth in coal production, with closures announced at two coal mines in the Tumbler Ridge region. Teck Resources has also delayed its plan to reopen Quintette Coal, which it opened as one of the first Tumbler Ridge mines in 1982 and closed in 2000 due to low coal prices.

Bennett said the metallurgical coal market is subject to cycles that are closely tied to Asian demand for steel, and the long-term trend continues to be strong. B.C. and Australia are the world’s leading sources of high-grade metallurgical coal.

 

Just Posted

15 new mayors to take office across the Kootenays

Here’s a look at the highlights from across the Kootenay region in B.C.

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Why municipal elections are important

Voting helps shape our community

Director happy with referendum results

Columbia Shuswap Regional District Area A residents voted in favour of the… Continue reading

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after concussion

Rookie is back practising after being sidelined by Florida defenceman Mike Matheson

UPDATED: 34 rescued off whale watching boat in Georgia Strait

Tour company says vessel experienced some kind of mechanical issue

Pipeline opponents blast Trans Mountain re-approval plan

Environmental advocates, First Nations leaders say NEB review has same flaws as it had before

Opioid crisis may be shortening British Columbians’ life expectancy: report

Canada among healthiest wealthy countries, but 8,000 overdose deaths since 2016 are causing concern

B.C. cold case helps ‘60 Minutes’ explain genetic genealogy

An arrest in the 1987 double-murder of two people from Victoria was one of three examples highlighted in a segment you can watch here

Delivery of cannabis could be impacted by postal strike

BC Liquor Distribution Branch look at alternative third-party delivery services

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Rural regions get priority for B.C. referendum mail-out

Ballot security measures aim to protect against voter fraud

Most Read