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Time for mining?

“There’s no silver bullet or we would have fired it by now,” Gratton said.

“There’s no silver bullet or we would have fired it by now,” Gratton said. “We are an increasingly urbanized country, and the risk we [as an industry] have is that people take us for granted; they don’t realize how much their pension relies on our sector.”

His comments came shortly after the Fraser Institute released its annual mining jurisdictions report, where B.C. slipped from the 24th-best mining region in the world to 38th out of a possible 72.

Gratton took aim at the report. “I just wonder if, in part, B.C. has only been disadvantaged as a jurisdiction in this report because so many [mining companies] are here and they suffer from a grass-is-greener syndrome. We get mad at the jurisdiction where we live, where the reality is they’re all choosing this place, this city, to base their operations.”

Gratton said most Vancouverites don’t realize the city is a mining hub. According to the Association for Mineral Exploration BC (AME BC), Vancouver is home to more than 800 mining companies, including industry heavyweights such as Teck Resources Ltd., Goldcorp Inc. and Pan American Silver Corp.

The city also plays host to mining groups such as Hunter Dickinson, the Lundin Group of Companies and magnate Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.

“If you took the mining exploration industry out of downtown Vancouver, everything would just collapse. So much of our livelihood here and what we take for granted comes from [mining],” said Gratton.

Gratton was travelling to Kamloops, Princeton and Smithers last month to spread the word about the so-called mining renaissance.

“What we’re also trying to do is work with those communities to communicate and tell Vancouver and Victoria how much our industry means,” he said. “If you really want to help rural B.C. … you need industrial development.”

His claim is based on the fact that for the first time in years some major new mines are moving toward production including:
• Vancouver-based Copper Mountain Mining Corp., which just got the final permit to restart its copper mine in Princeton;
• New Gold Inc.’s New Afton copper-gold project that’s being built near Kamloops;
• Roca Mines Inc., which is waiting for permit amendments to double production at its MAX molybdenum mine;
• Imperial Metals Corp., which recently settled a federal Supreme Court lawsuit for its proposed Red Chris mine; and
• Terrane Metals Corp., which has received federal environmental assessment approval for its Mt. Milligan project.

Despite the good news, the industry is not without its challenges. The Fraser Institute survey placed B.C. dead last for issues related to aboriginal land claims.

A recent decision to ban all mining activities in Southeast B.C.’s Flathead Valley doesn’t bode well for the industry either, said Gratton (see sidebar).

The Nak’azdli Band recently filed a petition for a federal review of Mt. Milligan’s environmental permits, and the West Moberly First Nations in Northeast B.C. won a lawsuit against First Coal Corp. to halt the development of a coal mine that threatened an endangered caribou herd.

At Williams Lake, Taseko Mines Inc.’s proposed Prosperity copper-gold mine is also battling local First Nations and enviromentalists.u

Western Investor

August, 2010