Aerial panoramic view of a copper mine in the interior of British Columbia, Canada.

Beautiful British Columbia has mining potential sitting in every corner of the province, and now some of that potential might begin to be realized. The coming years could see seven new mines be built in BC, worth a combined C$4 billion ($3.3 billion), generating approximately 6,400 new construction and mining jobs. 

Unfortunately for miners in the region and looking to expand into BC’s borders, a backlogged and often confrontational permitting system is still standing in the way. The President of the Mining Association of BC, Goehring, addressed the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade this week: “Before any of these projects can proceed, and before the economic benefits can start flowing, they must be permitted by government. I said this here two years ago and, unfortunately, I have to say it again.”

Important Economic Partners Are Being Held Back

Mining companies provide jobs and an economic boost to the area they operate in. Artemis Gold (TSXV:ARTG), a gold miner with the Blackwater gold mine, is a prime example. “That project will boost the economy of B.C.’s central interior at a time when it desperately needs a boost,” Goehring said.  “With this one mine, we’re talking 825 construction jobs for two years and up to 457 new jobs that will be created during operations.”

Backlogs and debates often bog down the process of permitting new projects to move forward. Still, many companies would be able to help boost British Columbia’s economy significantly with the right environment. 

Teck Resources (TSX:TECK-B) Highland Valley Copper Mine only has six years of life left for operations. It is currently seeking an expansion of the mines to extend the project to 2040. If regulatory issues and permit logjams continue, BC could risk missing out on the massive growth in demand for metals like copper needed for the global decarbonization movement sweeping the global economy. 

“The Time is Now”

Goehring added: “Governments are making – or are poised to make – unprecedented investments in infrastructure and in cleantech. And whether it’s for copper for electric vehicles or metallurgical coal for the steel needed to build transit and bridges and wind turbines – we have it right here in BC. There is an urgency to make this happen. The time is now. This unique window of opportunity won’t be open for long.” 

With copper prices sitting at all-time highs and demand set to outstrip supply for the coming decade and beyond, copper miners could profit like never before. If the regulatory process in BC is too complicated, though, new mines won’t be built, and the province will not be able to capitalize on this huge demand. 

Goehring continued, “Developing a new mining project in BC – or expanding an existing one – takes far too long and comes with too much uncertainty. Meanwhile increasing costs are hobbling our ability to compete in the world market. I simply can’t stress this enough. The permitting process in our province is too slow, too complex, and too costly. That said, we are encouraged and appreciative of the government’s ongoing review of the permitting process and look forward to an outcome that will lead to permitting systems that’s measured in months, not years.”

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