Commentary: Looking at 2020 and beyond for BC’s mineral industry

Pretium Resources’ Brucejack gold mine in northwest British Columbia’s Golden Triangle region. Credit: Pretium Resources.Pretium Resources’ Brucejack gold mine in northwest British Columbia’s Golden Triangle region. Credit: Pretium Resources.

As the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) gears up for the 37th annual Mineral Exploration Roundup conference from Jan. 20 to 23, 2020, it is time to take stock of the past year and look ahead to the potential for mineral exploration and development in 2020.

It seems that 2019 was a unique year for the industry as it has been challenging for some junior explorers to attract investment despite relatively strong metal prices.

In B.C., mineral exploration has had success and is being recognized on the global stage. The northwest region of the province, in particular, is seen around the world as a strong, vibrant and competitive mineral hub. Home to the Golden Triangle, a once remote region that is now well resourced with a series of infrastructure investments, the exploration and development success in this area also owes to the support from First Nation partners. This collaboration continues to pave the way for sustainable and responsible resource development that will bring jobs and economic opportunities.

Another region that benefitted from mineral exploration in 2019 is the Spences Bridge area in south-central British Columbia. This region is a historic mining district that saw a number of property deals and acquisitions in 2019, especially between junior companies and local prospectors, and between two juniors. This is an indication of the early-stage mineral exploration taking place in the region.

Throughout the year AME was involved in numerous working groups and sessions regarding the most notable legislation in recent history, Bill 41. This bill enacted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into law in B.C. and is closely tied to the provincial government’s goal, across all ministries, of advancing reconciliation in British Columbia.

The mineral exploration and mining industry in B.C. is at the forefront of these reconciliation efforts by way of agreements and partnerships with Indigenous communities, which embody the principles of UNDRIP, but there is still more work to be done. AME is looking forward to working collaboratively with the government and First Nations on the development and implementation of industry-specific action plans as the laws of B.C. are slowly brought into alignment with UNDRIP.

Looking ahead to 2020, we anticipate continued investment in regional exploration, including the Golden Triangle, Spences Bridge and the Cariboo regions, resulting in new projects and economic benefits to these communities.

Next year and beyond, the industry will see actions implemented stemming from the B.C. Mining Jobs Task Force report. The Mining Jobs Task Force was an initiative of the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. We encourage you to read the full report on the B.C. government website, which was a consensus document produced by a diverse group of Indigenous, labour, educator and environmental non-government representatives, AME and the Mining Association of British Columbia. One of these actions is building on the province’s tax incentives, including making permanent the B.C. Mining Flow-Through Share program at a rate of 20% and increasing the rate to 35% for a three-year trial period. We will also see results from the budget lift for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to advance mandate letter commitments and improve regulatory transparency and predictability within the industry.

Areas such as community engagement, economic and community development agreements, and social innovation will also see change and movement in the next year, with mineral exploration and mining leading the implementation of UNDRIP and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The industry continues to be a leader in developing and implementing collaborative decision-making and including Indigenous communities in compliance, monitoring and verification. The upcoming year should also see a realization of community benefits and company-community agreements, as well as increased opportunities for Indigenous groups to participate in exploration and project development.

AME will continue our advocacy in this area and will look for opportunities to engage in these important conversations. We will be hosting our eighth annual “The Gathering Place” and third annual Reconciliation Breakfast in partnership with Teck at Roundup. These events invite Indigenous and exploration industry leaders to share perspectives on how each can thrive and prosper through mutually beneficial collaboration.

With the theme “Lens on Discovery,” AME Roundup’s 2020 programming is designed to take a closer look at the projects, innovations and expertise that exemplify the passion and skill in our industry. I look forward to seeing you there!

— Kendra Johnston is the president and CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME). AME hosts its annual conference, the Mineral Exploration Roundup, in Vancouver at the Vancouver Convention Centre East from Jan. 20–23, 2020. Visit for more information.


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