Miners cry foul over government regulation

The Elkview coal mine is Teck Resources’ biggest operation.

Plus, a controversial name change for the Vancouver Board of Trade and cable ferry sails at last (next month)

Red-tape blues
The future of mining in B.C. is threatened by a shrinking supply of accessible land, according to a new report commissioned by an industry association. Calling on the provincial government to respond, the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC) points to “increasingly complex government policies” that pose an ongoing challenge to mining companies. “The reality is that more than half the province is severely constrained to the industry due to layers of restrictive and sometimes redundant regulations,” says Gavin C. Dirom, AME BC’s president and CEO. “We believe that it is possible to have both a strong and active mineral exploration and development industry and a sustainable, healthy environment.”
The report, prepared by environmental consulting firm Hemmera, points to a lack of clarity in land access and use rules, as well as the overlapping nature of government regulations. The shrinking access to land for mineral exploration, it argues, has reached a “critical threshold threatening the survival of the industry and by extension, the jobs, families, and communities that rely on it.”
In a press release, the AME BC notes that 30,000 British Columbians are employed by mineral exploration and development, and approximately 800 mining companies are headquartered in Metro Vancouver. More than $2.2 billion has been spent on mineral exploration in B.C. since 2010. 

Greater debate
Despite the protests of its neighbour to the south and east, the Vancouver Board of Trade is becoming Greater. At a special general meeting held on Friday, members voted overwhelmingly to change the name to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Chair Tim Manning explained in a release that the new moniker reflects the “regional voice” of the 129-year-old institution and the fact that half of the board’s members represent businesses outside of the city of Vancouver.
“The Vancouver Board of Trade has a very long, proud history of collaborating with other business and community groups in Greater Vancouver,” he said, “and in the years ahead, that will not change.”
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, had opposed the name change in the weeks leading up to the vote. “Their intention is to be the voice of the region’s business community,” she said. “But in our opinion, they do not represent the region.” 

All aboard
The new cable ferry from Vancouver Island to Denman Island is finally ready for service, two years behind schedule. BC Ferries says that the 50-vehicle Baynes Sound Connector will begin sailing in February. The cable ferry, a first for the corporation, will cross a distance of 1,900 metres, making it the longest cable ferry in the world.
The Baynes Sound Connector uses a system of three underwater cables to move and guide it. It replaces a diesel-operated conventional ferry, and BC Ferries expects to save $1.75 million per year through reduced crew, maintenance and fuel costs. Local residents have questioned whether the cable ferry will be able to sail in windy conditions.