Outlook 2018: B.C. mining industry opens doors to greener future

Taking stock of the landscape on the eve of 2018, it is evident that the Mining Association of BC (MABC) has an important task for the year ahead. Commodity markets have begun to turn around, mines that have been idled in previous years are reopening and several exciting projects continue to move through the regulatory process. The mining industry will engage in a meaningful way with British Columbians about the role of mining – not just in the economy, but in their day-to-day lives and, importantly, in the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable future for everyone.

B.C. is a province with many unique advantages. As the Pacific gateway, we offer multiple vibrant port cities with access to international markets. We have rich mineral deposits, and a pool of world-class talent, and our mines have been leaders in the development of agreements and partnerships to ensure we are sharing resources and benefits with First Nations partners and communities. We are proud to boast some of the least carbon-intensive mining operations in the world, due in large part to our clean, green electricity grid coupled with our industry-leading innovation, and our robust regulatory framework has earned B.C. a reputation as a world leader.

B.C. is also increasingly becoming a hub for technology. Greater Vancouver continues to attract world-leading tech companies, and it is important for British Columbians to recognize that many of these tech companies are servicing natural resource sectors like mining. In fact, mining is a tech industry; therefore, a successful and growing mining sector will help contribute to a successful and growing tech sector. 

In our increasingly connected world, it is critical for our industry to continue to be a leader in the shift toward increased transparency and engagement. As B.C.’s voice of mining, MABC will approach 2018 with a spirit of open dialogue to have important conversations around best practices in our industry and how we can collaborate, innovate and achieve even more together.  We want to talk about how and why we extract natural resources, what our responsibilities are to the environment and communities we operate in, and what we do to promote safety and ensure economic benefits are shared so that we are all better off.

We have already begun this shift. In November, for the first time, MABC participated in Clean Energy BC’s Generate conference, coming together to discuss the role of mining in our transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Clean Energy Canada predicts that to move toward clean energy production and support the development of clean technology such as solar panels, wind turbines and high-density batteries, there will be an increased and ongoing need for the responsible extraction of minerals and metals. These technologies all require the metals and minerals produced by mines in B.C., including steelmaking coal, copper, lead, zinc, gold, molybdenum and silver. Electric cars require up to four times more copper than a conventional car, and it takes over 100 tonnes of steelmaking coal to build one wind turbine. As a leading producer of these inputs, B.C. mines are positioned to support a major movement toward our clean-energy future.

As British Columbians, we pride ourselves in being conscientious, engaged citizens and front-runners in climate leadership, environmental stewardship and community engagement. Our mine sites reflect those principles. We look forward to a year of dialogue and collaboration. British Columbia was built on mining and so too will be our future. Join us in this conversation. 

Bryan Cox is president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia.