B.C. moves up in Fraser Institute’s mining investment ranking

A quarry near Lillooet, B.C.

B.C. still lags Quebec and Ontario in this year’s survey of mining executives

British Columbia has improved as a place for mining investment, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mining executives released Thursday. B.C.’s ranking jumped 13 places over last year, but it still falls behind Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario—and foreign jurisdictions such as Utah, Finland and Queensland, Australia.

At issue was the uncertainty concerning disputed land claims by First Nations, according to the mining executives surveyed. When asked what was the impact of these disputes on the industry, 77 per cent of those who responded said that it was negative. And in the survey’s list of anonymous accounts by executives in the industry, that sentiment was widespread.

“Uncertainty surrounding First Nations issues and implementation of court decisions is still a concern. Threat by First Nations to block resource development regardless of process and company’s approval through the outlined process is also a worry,” said the vice-president of one exploration company.

“Native land claims procedure was excessively long and entailed the claims of four different bands. Demands were excessive by some and replies were slow by others,” said another anonymous source, who is in senior management at an exploration company.

And it wasn’t just the relationship with First Nations that had executives concerned. Uncertainty over environmental regulations and over how regulations are enforced were both common complaints.

“B.C. has been very inconsistent in dealing with the aftermath of the Mt. Polley disaster. A predictable and consistent method of regulating tailings facilities must be pursued,” said one manager at a company with more than $50 million in revenue.

But it wasn’t all negative. There was also praise for infrastructure projects like the Northwest Transmission line that make some remote projects in the North more feasible. “The line is a visionary and much appreciated infrastructure investment in B.C. that has given new hope to projects in the northwest corner of the province,” said one president of an exploration company.

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