The B.C. government is aiming to reverse a slide in mineral exploration investment that has come after world metal prices peaked and then declined to a 10-year average level in the past two years.
Premier Christy Clark and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett helped open the annual Association for Mineral Exploration B.C.’s conference in Vancouver Monday with a pair of announcements.
Clark told delegates the province’s mining exploration tax credit will be extended for another year in the B.C. budget to be tabled in February. That is expected to provide $10 million for exploration.
Geoscience BC, an industry research organization started by the province in 2005, also released results of its latest aerial survey to identify new mineral potential in the B.C. Interior.
“Every time GeoscienceBC does a project like this, in the ensuing three or four years you see a significant bump in exploration activity in the area where the survey was done,” Bennett said in an interview.
He added that much of B.C.’s Interior is covered by glacial till from the ice age that ended 10,000 years ago, making traditional mineral prospecting impossible over large areas.
He said the tax credit is similar to what B.C. provides for deep drilling and other unconventional natural gas exploration, but on a smaller scale. It supports junior mining companies and is not a subsidy to established corporations, he said.
Clark told the mining conference that the government is halfway to its election commitment of 17 new and expanded mines in B.C., including the new Mt. Milligan copper mine and others that have received permits.
She also referred to the need for a review of B.C.’s environmental assessment system.
“My belief is that the process over the years has gotten less certain, less predictable, and probably not as efficient as people would like,” Clark told reporters after her speech.