It's that time of January when thousands of mining people descend on Vancouver for a rite of their industry: the Association for Mineral Exploration's annual Roundup conference.
The mood of this conference is read as a barometer of what's in store for the mining industry. Organizers commented last night that the positive trends of 2016 are carrying over into 2017 and that is reflected in large anticipated turnout of 6,000-7,000.
BC has hundreds of exploration projects that could create regional economic development in communities, stimulate local demand for goods and services, develop and build upon local expertise, and support thousands of family-sustaining jobs in both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. Today, Roundup's Gathering Place sponsored by Teck will commence business with a welcoming ceremony by Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, who has dedicated his life to "bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding and racism at home and abroad." Mining is proving to be a catalyst in reconciliation.
In terms of building opportunities for aboriginal people in rural territories, the potential for mining to be a game changer is genuine. One of today's Gathering Place speakers is Lana Eagle. At a recent event where Resource Works executive director Stewart Muir was also a speaker, Lana spoke vividly about the scope of the problem, and she shared her keys to success. Her talk was powerfully captured by artist Sam Bradd and is worth a look.
There is a message in all this for city residents, most of whom don't have the chance to put these pieces together directly for themselves: if you support aboriginal reconciliation, you should also support responsible mining. And in the upcoming provincial election season, office seekers should be asked how they would ensure supportive policies are in place for this to take place.
British Columbia has a gigantic place in the global mining industry. A recent letter from the AME to the provincial government listed off some notable attributes:
- BC hosts world-class metal, mineral and coal deposits, and further discoveries are likely with continued exploration. Prospecting, exploration and mining are central to BC’s export-driven economy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue for government from title fees, mineral taxes, income taxes and corporate taxes to offset the province’s rising health care, education and infrastructure costs.
- BC is seen as the world’s centre for mineral exploration and development expertise, the sector’s long-term success is dependent on the provincial government’s continuing leadership of an “open for business” culture that supports incentivizing exploration and a healthy, efficient, and effective venture capital market system that encourages risk-taking entrepreneurs and investors who create jobs not just for themselves, but for so many others.
- The province continues to host 58 per cent of the mineral exploration and mining companies listed on the TSX and TSX-V exchanges.
- Many of the major mines in the world were discovered by BC-based junior exploration companies raising risk capital from speculators.
- All significant mines in BC were initially financed by equity raises subscribed by speculators.
- A recent report found that over 70 per cent of the discoveries made in Canada between 2004 and 2014 were made by junior companies, highlighting the importance of responding to their financing challenges.
Roundup 2017 thus represents a confluence of culture and industry, and it resonates the more powerfully because it brings together aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures. It also highlights, because it takes place right in the heart of Canada's third largest city, the sometimes oppositional urban and rural personalities of BC. For city residents who benefit in every sense from the mining industry, an event like this should be of more than passing interest.