British Columbia has a long history in mining, from the first coal mines on Vancouver Island in the mid-1800s, through the Cariboo gold rush, to the modernized mines of today, mineral exploration and mining have remained a foundational industry of the province.
Given its history and important role in our daily lives, it is fitting that this year, for the first time, we expand the celebration of this important industry from a single week to a full month. As Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, it is my pleasure to proclaim May 2018 as Mining Month in British Columbia.
Our government understands the important contributions the mining industry makes to the people and communities of our province. While some may view mining as simply a traditional sector, we recognize it as much more than that: Mining is a hotbed of innovation for the future.
British Columbia is the largest producer of copper, and second-largest producer of silver, in Canada. As we transition to electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines, those minerals will be even more essential. The average two-megawatt wind turbine contains five tonnes of copper and 230 tonnes of steel, and electric cars require up to four times more copper than conventional vehicles.
Not only are British Columbia’s minerals and metals key components in renewable energy production and reducing carbon emissions, our mining industry is also partnering with high-tech companies and adopting cleaner technology to reduce its impact on the environment.
A great example of this innovation and technology is MiningVR, a virtual reality (VR) platform designed right here in British Columbia by high-tech firm LlamaZOO. This unique technology gives mining companies the ability to map mine plans onto a life-sized interactive experience that aids companies in all facets of mine development, including resource management, mine planning and reclamation.
Using LlamaZOO’s technology, companies can bring their mine site to any location with virtual reality. This means technical experts, governments, First Nations and community members can take a virtual walk through a company’s mine site from any location in the world, and thus reduce associated greenhouse-gas travel emissions.
One of the biggest mining companies in B.C., Teck Resources, is also a partner in one of the largest technology superclusters: the B.C.-based Digital Technology Supercluster. Part of its work will focus on what it calls the Earth Data Store that will facilitate improved data collection, sharing and visualization – enhancing confidence in resource sector project planning and assessments for proponents, Indigenous peoples, government and communities.
Our government is also working with our federal, provincial and territorial partners to develop the Canadian Metals and Minerals Plan. Part of our discussions involves looking at ways to ignite innovation in our mining sector. This may include the development and adoption of clean technologies and the use of artificial intelligence to improve safety and reduce hazards.
As a regulator, government also has a role in innovation for our mining sector. That is why I launched the Mining Jobs Task Force in February to look at ways we can create and sustain good jobs in mining throughout the province. Among other issues, our 12-member task force will look at innovation in the mining sector, examine how B.C. compares to other jurisdictions and provide recommendations to strengthen mineral exploration and mining in our province. In an era when we will need minerals for an electrified economy and transportation, we want B.C. to be cutting edge, and a world leader.
Along with looking at what government and our B.C. mining sector can do here at home, we’re reaching out abroad to let the world know that B.C. mining is an excellent investment. Just this past month, the government, along with First Nations and several exploration companies from B.C.’s northwest region, created the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA) to promote British Columbia’s mining opportunities internationally. The BCRMA is an opportunity for First Nations and industry to showcase how collaboration is leading to world-class mineral development in our province and demonstrates our government’s commitment to working with First Nations and industry to build a new generation of relationships and partnerships.
Our government is committed to working with First Nations, mining communities and industry to strengthen and improve natural resource development in this province, so that we can build a strong, sustainable, innovative economy that works for all British Columbians.