Mining News

Land-Claims a Major Issue for BC

Posted by Cheryl Rutledge on 2/12/2015 5:01:22 PM

By Taylor Jackson and Kenneth P. Green

Recently British Columbia’s Premier, Christy Clark, announced that the province was going to provide funding for the establishment of a Major Mines Permitting Office to improve the coordination of permitting across the government, in addition to adding more staff for inspections and permitting activities, and improving the turnaround times for notice of work permits.

Specifically, Premier Clark said:

“Up to 10 new mines are expected to proceed in the next few years and this new funding will make sure we are ready to support these projects and ensure the safety of this important industry as it continues to grow…B.C.’s mineral exploration and mining industry is a great comeback story and today we have a significant opportunity to create thousands of jobs by opening new mines and expanding existing ones”

While the focus on streamlining and reducing the time it takes for mines to get permitted is welcomed, if BC really wants to support the development of mining in the province, it may want to first consider focusing on mitigating uncertainty arising from disputed land-claims.

In 2013, the Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies assessed BC as having world class mineral potential, ranking 5th of 112 countries based on the perceptions of the provinces mineral reserves by mining executives. On policy, however, BC performed rather poorly compared to other jurisdictions, raking 32nd of 112 in terms of how favorable their policies are to mining investment. A large part of the reason for this is disputed land-claims. Seventy percent of respondents rated uncertainty concerning disputed land claims as being a deterrent to investment, with just under 1/3 of overall respondents rating uncertainty in this area of policy being either a strong deterrent to investment or that they would not invest all together. Compare this with the question asking miners to assess the effect of regulatory inconsistencies and duplications on investment, which would capture many of the challenges resulting from permitting. Only 12 percent of miners found this to be a strong deterrent to investment.

From 2013 to 2014 exploration spending declined in BC by almost $140 million and the province would like that investment to return. The results of the survey suggest that the best way to attract investment might be to first and foremost address BC’s land-claims issues.

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