Extracting added value from commodities like minerals, energy, paper and lumber is the most realistic option we have to create more high-tech jobs in an era when over 70 per cent of global trade is in intermediate goods and services and capital goods.
Natural resources are a foundational element of British Columbia’s economy, resulting in high-paying jobs and revenues that pay for our hospitals and schools.
Increasingly, the forest, mining and oil & gas sectors have also become powerful drivers of sustainability, innovation and competitiveness.
Nearly 200 small and medium-sized companies in British Columbia have been identified that support the resource industry in seven key technology fields unified by having the unique characteristic of cutting across specific sectors. This characteristic means those companies are the ones most likely to support the emergence of resource technology as an export industry in and of itself.
Here is an obvious opportunity for local companies to grow, diversify and become more productive, resulting in higher sales per worker and higher wages. By growing clean tech and sustainable prosperity, we can also create success conditions for major infrastructure investments at home which require public understanding and acceptance.
The Naturally Resourceful project is about celebrating how far we have come, while also recognizing that much work is still needed to connect B.C. companies up to global value chains. So far in 2017, we’ve profiled eight companies that are using resource innovation to develop export markets. In 2018, we’re going to continue this work, while also seeking solutions to barriers currently holding us back from greater success.
The November 29 Naturally Resourceful event features a keynote address by Fazil Mihlar, British Columbia’s Deputy Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, on how his ministry is pursuing a mandate that includes growing B.C.’s technology sector and championing innovation at home and abroad.
The lunch event will also feature a panel, moderated by Stewart Muir of Resource Works, bringing together leading minds who are already focused on the export of resource services in minerals, forestry, energy and transportation.
Those who attend the Naturally Resourceful lunch event will come away stimulated by fresh ideas and an enhanced network.
What are the seven most promising value-add fields enabling export innovation for British Columbia?
According to a recent provincial government study, British Columbia already has the building blocks of cross-cutting export success in these fields:
- Filtration: The separation of solids from fluids is widely utilised in natural resource projects such as water treatment, a range of waste treatment plants including water, solid, and air waste, enhanced biofuel production, biogas combustion, and reverse osmosis systems.
- Geological Analysis: Analyses of geological samples and geologic hazards assessment to determine cost and practicality of extraction, assess feasibility of renewable energy projects, and evaluate health and safety for deep geological and near-surface disposal.
- Telemetry: Used to sense, track, record and report throughout natural resource projects to understand appropriateness of sites, monitor operations, and reduce cost.
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): UAVs are used widely in the natural resources space to provide high resolution aerial photography and mapping in forestry projects, create mining survey and allow surveyors to collect accurate spatial data to improve workers’ safety, help design natural gas pipeline monitoring systems, survey landfills to improve waste management processes, and acquire renewable energy site data from often remote sites.
- Satellites: Satellites provide critical capabilities to natural resource projects that reduce costs of exploration and help understand risks.
- Global Positioning System (GPS): GPS is used for surveyors to traverse between points; in many aspects of natural gas, particularly offshore drills; in the mining industry for control of heavy machinery, roads grading and maintenance, fleet management and asset tracking; design and implement integrated waste management solutions to achieve a zero waste status; and widely used in renewable projects to provide quality control.
- Digital Analysis and Simulation: Used to build a Digital Earth, manage natural resources, better understand geographic phenomena which lead to better informed predictions on natural resource availability, carry out environmental monitoring, environmental impact studies, infrastructure planning, grassroots exploration and ground access, spectral processing to delineate potential exploration targets, digital elevation model generation, a range of renewable energy projects including wind, solar and biomass, and analyse natural resource projects’ risks, benefits and outcomes.
The Naturally Resourceful series
Here are eight innovative companies Resource Works has profiled that exemplify the greener, more diversified resource economy: