Mining News

PwC report: British Columbia’s mining sector healthy despite lower prices and economic uncertainty

Posted by Alana Wilson on 5/15/2013 10:15:16 AM

By Alana Wilson

British Columbia’s mining sector had another prosperous year, according to PwC's annual report on mining in British Columbia. The sector remained stable despite facing global market uncertainty, lower commodity prices, and higher costs for labour and mining inputs such as production materials, fuel, and transportation.

British Columbia’s most valuable revenue-generating commodities – copper and coal – both had falling prices in 2012 leading to lower gross revenues for the industry. Prices have declined as a result of slower global economic growth and the debt crisis in Europe.

Despite higher labour costs, more workers were employed at BC’s mines. The number of employees in 2012 rose to 10,419 from 9,310 in 2011, with average worker earnings also rising. Attraction and retention of skilled labor remains a challenge for BC mines and this challenge is expected to increase as older workers retire and fewer young people enter the workforce. The industry has a number of programs in place to attract and provide training to workers including recruiting underutilized and currently underrepresented groups in the sector such as Aboriginal peoples, immigrants, and women. The BC mining sector is already the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal peoples with approximately 6% of Aboriginal peoples working in BC’s mining sector compared with 4% in other sectors, according to a report by MiHr.

In addition to the economic benefits of direct employment, mining also supported numerous supplier and indirect jobs in British Columbia. The BC mining industry also generates tax revenues and paid $504 million to governments and their agencies in 2012.

Looking ahead, the PwC report is optimistic for BCs mining sector in 2013. Steady demand for global resources is expected, driven by urbanization in emerging economies such as China and India. New mines are also coming into production in the near term. Finally infrastructure investment in BC, especially the completion of the Northwest Transmission Line in 2014, is expected to boost mining activity in the province.

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