The construction of the Northwest Transmission Line has opened up opportunities for mining in Northwest British Columbia. Currently there are eleven mine sites either operating or in higher levels of development in the northwest region, and many of them would not be possible without the additional power available in the region from the new transmission line.
British Columbia has the largest mining sector in Canada with more than 1,200 mineral exploration and mining companies, including 19 mines based and operating in the province. Mining in BC is rapidly growing as 2011 made history as a record breaker with $463 million spent on mineral exploration expenditures in BC, compared to only $29 million in 2001. Mining companies are increasing capital investments as well, with over $2 billion invested by mining companies in 2011, compared to only $700 million the year before. The mining sector employs over 29,000 people in British Columbia.
British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines
The government of BC Ministry of Energy and Mines is the government’s main representation in the mining industry. The ministry’s focus is on the BC Jobs Plan, which includes opening new markets and building relationships with overseas investors to protect and create jobs in the province.
There are three goals that the Ministry is focused on completing. First, the Ministry is working to create eight new mines and expand nine existing ones by 2015. If this is achieved it is estimated to increase mining revenue by $1.6 billion, create 7,000 jobs, and generate over $150 million per year in government revenues. The second goal is to increase mining exploration to ensure long-term mining activity in the future. This includes clearing a backlog of permit applications, and committing to a 60-day turnaround of all applications in the future. The third goal is to ensure mine development improves the social and economic well-being of First nations and to respect their cultural values. The ministry plans on having ten non-treaty agreements signed by the government and First Nations communities by 2015. This will help bring jobs and foster economic growth in First Nations communities.
There are six components that the Ministry of Energy and Mines is working to achieve through these goals. The ministry wants to enhance the province’s competitive edge, streamline regulatory processes, ensure the health and safety of the industry’s workers, protect the environment, build partnerships with First Nations, and develop a skilled workforce.
More information about the BC Jobs Plan can be found in their Mining Strategy document.
The BC Ministry of Energy and Mines hosts a map of operating mines and select major exploration projects map on their website.
Smithers Exploration Group
Smithers Exploration Group is a non-profit organization consisting of people who are involved in the mining industry in Northwest British Columbia. The organization is dedicated to the advancement of geology, exploration and mining in the northwest, and works closely alongside the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia in order to achieve these goals.
Smithers Exploration Group works to promote mining in a variety of aspects, including the provision of short educational courses for interested parties, the organization of technical and general interest talks, and hosting conferences and other social events. These activities are designed to educate members and the general public about exploration and mining and to create opportunities for building and strengthening business relationships.
One of the events that the Smithers Exploration Group is associated with is the Minerals North Conference. This conference brings together mining corporations, local businesses and First Nations groups, and promotes collaboration between these groups for the future.
Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia
The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AMEBC) represents 4,800 members including geoscientists, prospectors, engineers, entrepreneurs, exploration companies, suppliers, mineral producers, and associations who are engaged in mineral exploration and development in BC and throughout the world.
The Association for Mineral Exploration BC has three areas in which it is directing its focus. First, AMEBC is developing and sharing information that discusses the impacts of land use designations in British Columbia, as well as discussing industry-related issues with the government. Second, the association is working with government to be more consistent in their efforts to coordinate and improve permitting processes and consultation timelines with aboriginal communities. Part of this goal is to help the government implement an online permit tracking information system for notice of work applications, as well as to support the major projects and investment initiatives being developed in the province. The final area of focus is to increase knowledge and understanding of the industry, and specifically low impact mineral exploration, to the general public and government.
The Association for Mineral Exploration BC website has information on the associations policy and history, as well as up-to-date industry news. Also available is an online library of industry related publications and resources.
Benefits to becoming a member of the Association for Mineral Exploration BC include complimentary listing in the online directory, corporate recognition in the AMEBC newsletter, exclusive discounts, access to AMEBC’s library of industry-related publications and more.
The Mining Association of British Columbia
The Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC) represents the collective needs and interests of operating coal, metal and industrial mineral mining companies. MABC provides member companies with services including: participation in key government/industry committees, updates on regulatory change, access to meetings that provide the opportunity to exchange information among members, joint industry action on issues of common concern, and the availability of staff expertise on the areas of greatest interest.
The Mining Association of British Columbia liaises with government legislators, lobbies for regulatory advancement and publicly promotes the economic and social value of mining. Their goal is to help clear the public and political paths essential to the industry's future growth and development.
There is detailed information regarding careers in the mining industry on the MABC website, including descriptions of positions, education availability, and Co-op programs for post-secondary students interested in working in the field. Also on the website is an outline of their policies, and a resource centre that has a variety of publications, presentations, speeches and more.
The Mining Association of British Columbia website has an interactive map highlighting all the current mining operations at every stage through British Columbia. The map also provides links to company websites.
The Mining Association job board is a hub for individuals looking to gain employment or for companies looking to highlight openings. The page has postings for each level of positions, from accounting, administration and human resources, to engineering, maintenance and operations, and everything in between.
Geoscience BC is an industry-led, not-for-profit, applied geoscience organization. Geoscience BC works in partnership with industry, academia, government, First Nations, and communities to fund applied geoscience projects with the objective to attract mineral and oil & gas exploration to British Columbia.
Geoscience BC's mandate includes the collection, interpretation, and delivery of geoscience data and expertise, to promote investment in resource exploration and development in British Columbia.
Many of Geoscience BC’s projects are identified through a process of requests for proposals (RFP). They have two main RFP's: open requests for any applied or innovative geoscience projects that will attract investment in exploration in BC; and targeted requests that are more directed proposals to undertake specific work, or calls for bids on specific surveys in order to achieve some of their program objectives. In all cases, Geoscience BC seeks collaborative and partnership projects that come with supportive funding. Projects funded include newly collected geoscience data, new ideas and new technologies, compilations and reprocessing of existing data, and applications of existing technologies in new areas
The Geoscience BC website has extensive information for the industry including raw data, maps, and viewing/analysis tools. Additionally, there is also information about current Geoscience BC projects and previous publications and news updates.
Those interested in pursuing a career with Geoscience BC are recommended to visit their Careers page.
School of Exploration & Mining
The School of Exploration and Mining is a mining-industry based training institute developed by Smithers Exploration Group and Northwest Community College. The School of Exploration and Mining offers a selection of programs designed to train individuals for real-world positions at a mine.
The programs range between one and twelve weeks long. The School of Exploration and Mining’s goal is to provide an industry-driven curriculum and they achieve this through practical out-of-classroom methods such as a heavy equipment simulator and a week-long bush camp course. Specific programs include training for camp operations, drill core technician, environmental monitor or mining exploration field assistants, basic prospector training, surface diamond driller’s helper, introduction to metal leaching and acid rock drainage, and workforce exploration skills training. Northwest Community College also offers other programs that are of interest to the industry.
The School of Exploration and Mining is committed to increasing employment opportunities for local First Nations populations. Roughly seventy-five percent of students are First Nations, and seventy percent of graduates have found employment in the mining industry.
Program listings, dates and other information are available on the School of Exploration and Mining website.
College of New Caledonia
The College of New Caledonia has a Mining Industry Certificate program available. The Mining Industry Certificate (MINE) program is an educational program designed to train students for a career in the surface mining industry. The program is available at the College of New Caledonia’s Burns Lake site and helps ensure local residents have specialized knowledge and skills to access employment opportunities at mine sites throughout the northwest region.
Designed to train students for a career in the surface mining industry, the MINE program uses heavy equipment simulators that fast track heavy equipment operators to about forty percent proficiency before they are ever on a job site, saving mining companies’ considerable amounts of training time, and making graduates from this program very desirable to mine operators. While the heavy-haul truck and front-end loader simulators are essential to the program, students develop a full range of skills. By the time they graduate, they have also had on-site training; earned the safety certifications they will require and gained a real-world understanding of what it’s like to work as part of a team at a mine site.
Completion of the program gives gradates their Mining Industry Certificate, an opportunity to build credits towards and/or complete the BC Adult Graduation diploma, and a base knowledge that would be beneficial for students who pursue further education in the Mining Technology diploma.
The program requirements are available online.