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B.C.’s critical mineral strategy not competitive enough, industry group says

BCMA’s Michael Goehring says strategy lacks “competitive fiscal policy”
Michael Goehring, president and chief executive officer of the British Columbia Mining Association, is critical of the first phase of government’s critical minerals strategy. (Black Press Media file photo)

The province’s plan to accelerate critical mineral extraction projects — at least its first phase — continues to draw diverse reactions, namely for a lack of competitive fiscal policy.

Governments around the world consider minerals such as copper and nickel critical in the production of electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines: technologies deemed necessary to reduce greenhouse gases.

On Jan 22, coinciding with Premier David Eby’s appearance at a gathering of B.C.’s Association for Mineral Exploration, the provincial government announced its first-phase strategic plan, promising a new critical minerals project advancement office and the release of a critical minerals atlas to support exploration and land-use planning.

Michael Goehring, Mining Association of British Columbia president and chief executive officer, said in a statement Monday that the strategy recognizes the “generational opportunity” that critical minerals offer, as well as emphasizes the need to support First Nations partnerships and economic reconciliation. However, he also criticized the model for carbon tax pricing by the province.

“The mining sector believes the (strategy) lacks the foundation of a competitive fiscal framework,” Goehring said in pointing to the government’s transition to an output-based carbon pricing system.

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While B.C.’s mining and smelting industry supports what Goehring calls a “carbon price signal,” it currently pays the highest carbon tax in Canada and the world, while having the lowest GHG emissions globally. But there is no further opportunity to decarbonize, because “zero-emission haul truck technologies are not expected to be commercially available before the end of the decade, at best,” Goehring said.

It is “imperative” that “existing and prospective critical mineral mines” pay a carbon tax competitive with Ontario and Quebec, he added.

Keerit Jutla, Association for the Mineral Exploration president and CEO, said his organization welcomes Eby’s acknowledgement that more action is needed, and that it is “imperative that greater emphasis is placed on competitiveness and the fiscal and regulatory policies that will attract investment in mineral exploration and mine development.”

Jutla also urged speed, if B.C. wants to remain competitive with its provincial peers. Lamenting B.C.’s declining contribution in mineral exploration measured in dollars, Jutla is calling on the provincial government to step up its financial investment.

“We believe an investment of $50 million over three years is required to sufficiently fund and implement a strategy to the same level as our other provincial peers and truly complement the federal critical minerals strategy,” Jutla said.

Black Press Media reached out to the provincial government for comment.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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