Ministers talk mining at Halifax conference

Responsible resource extraction, LNG a hot topic at national conference featuring provincial energy and mining ministers.

BC's Energy & Mines Minister Bill Bennett joining other ministers at the Energy & Mines Ministers Conference in Halifax

BC's Energy & Mines Minister Bill Bennett joining other ministers at the Energy & Mines Ministers Conference in Halifax

Resource extraction and liquid natural gas (LNG) dominated discussions between industry groups and Canada’s provincial mining ministers at a conference in Halifax this past weekend.

Kootenay-East MLA Bill Bennett, the B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines, joined his provincial counterparts, along with Federal and industry representatives at the annual Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference to network and address common issues.

Bennett noted that his fellow ministers were very interested in learning about B.C.’s LNG projects as well as B.C. Hydro’s generation of electricity through conservation programs.

In terms of LNG, Bennett said there was lots of interested in developing the industry on the East Coast and referenced the province’s agreement with Petronas, which was recently approved by the legislature.

“Nova Scotia is working on two, and New Brunswick is working on one,” said Bennett. “I have to tell you, they were enthusiastically congratulatory to British Columbia for signing this deal with Petronas.

“It’s not a final deal until the Federal Government provides an environmental certificate, but we now have the agreement in place, it’s legislated in place, we have the final investment decision from the company, we have our final tax structure in place.”

Bennett noted the LNG deal will be a $35-40 billion investment for B.C.

“For them to hear about a $40 billion project and the prospect of even others and more projects like that, it blows them away and I hope that British Columbians realize how fortunate we are to have that much natural gas, to be here on the West Coast and I hope they understand that we’re doing everything we can to exploit that opportunity.”

The fallout from the Mount Polley accident—the disaster where the tailings pond burst, sending millions of gallons of tailings pond sludge into Polley Lake—was also another big component of the conference, Bennett added.

“I presented an extensive presentation to all the ministers about the independent panel and what it discovered in terms of the Mount Polley accident and what the province is doing to change our policies and regulations going forward,” Bennett said.

“There is a lot of pressure on a lot of the mines’ ministers across the country to learn from what happened in B.C., so that played a pretty big part in our discussions around mining.”

Common issues facing ministers across inter-provincial boundaries seem to relate to public confidence in the industry, said Bennett.

“Everyone was challenged to help the public understand the need for resource extraction and to understand from a scientific standpoint how resources can be extracted safely and in an environmentally responsible way,” he said, noting that public confidence also extended to developing pipelines and developing LNG in Quebec and the Maritime provinces.

Access to venture capital by junior exploration companies was also another issue that was raised by Bennett himself.

“While it’s true that low commodity prices are driving down the interest and opportunity around grassroots mining activity, it’s also true that even if you want to go out and explore and if you think you have something worth investigating, it is harder than it’s ever been before to raise that high-risk investment,” Bennett said.

He gave the example that if a junior exploration company raises $3 million in venture capital, $500,000 of that goes to legal fees.

If junior exploration companies don’t have the capital for resource exploration and development, that eventually has a detrimental effect on the economy, he continued.

“A decade or two down the line, you don’t have any of these junior projects that can be developed over the next decade into a mine and that’s what I’m concerned about, that’s what the Prospectors and Developers Association is concerned about,” Bennett said.

Leading up to the conference, three priorities were identified by industry groups in a joint statement from the Canadian Mineral Industry Federation, the Mining Association of Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

The groups wanted the ministers to address challenges in a new regulatory regime and clarify duty to consult, address the higher costs of operating in remote and northern Canada, and help junior companies access more capital.

“Despite the current downturn, the industry continues to make enormous contributions to the social and economic well-being of Canadians,” said Pierre Gratton, the president and CEO of the MAC. “However, these contributions cannot be taken for granted.

“Working in partnership with industry, governments can take concrete steps now to position the sector for future success so that, together, we can seize growth opportunities at the earliest signs of the next upturn.”


Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read