A 19th Century placer miner uses a rocker box to search for gold. Placer mining has become mechanized and remains an active industry in B.C.

Minister eyes fee break for small-scale miners

The B.C. government has heard the protests and is re-thinking its plan, Mines Minister Bill Bennett says

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has heard the protests and is re-thinking its plan to impose new fees on placer mining operations, Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett says.

In an interview to mark Mining Week in B.C., Bennett said he has heard the criticism from the mining industry about introducing permit fees under the Mines Act that could apply to all mining activities, including placer mines that search for gold and metal ores in the loose rock around rivers.

“I’m determined to make sure that we’re not discouraging the junior level exploration with fees,” Bennett said. “That’s certainly my goal, that they wouldn’t be charged any fees, but we’re going to have to see where this settles out.”

Placer mining has come a long way from its roots in the waves of gold fever that swept over the Fraser Canyon, the Cariboo and the Klondike in Yukon. Larger placer mines can expect to pay for licensing and regulatory costs of their industry, as forest and other industries do on Crown land, Bennett said.

When the fees were proposed in February, the industry response was swift and negative. NDP mines critic Scott Fraser said he was getting letters as soon as the legislation was presented, and small operators were the most worried.

“They’ll get hit by this, and according to them, they’ll be pushed right off their claims,” Fraser said.

The larger picture of B.C. mining remains bright, Bennett said. Red Chris copper and gold mine is set to open this summer with the completion of a new electrical transmission line to northwestern B.C.

Copper Mountain near Princeton and Mount Milligan north of Prince George are up and producing metal ore, adding to mine activity that has tripled in terms of value to the economy since 2001.

Slumping prices for metallurgical coal have reversed some of the recent growth in coal production, with closures announced at two coal mines in the Tumbler Ridge region. Teck Resources has also delayed its plan to reopen Quintette Coal, which it opened as one of the first Tumbler Ridge mines in 1982 and closed in 2000 due to low coal prices.

Bennett said the metallurgical coal market is subject to cycles that are closely tied to Asian demand for steel, and the long-term trend continues to be strong. B.C. and Australia are the world’s leading sources of high-grade metallurgical coal.

 

Just Posted

Robbery suspect arrested near Burns Lake

RCMP use spike belt to deflate vehicle’s tires

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Police patrol for looters in evacuated areas south of Burns Lake

RCMP have brought in extra officers for the task

Fire chases Burns Lake crews out of their own camp

Crews are having to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

Wildfire update for Au. 17 2018

Shovel Lake: 79,192.0 hectares (estimated) - yesterday 68,375.0 hectares The Shovel Lake… Continue reading

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

B.C. man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Northern B.C. residents face more evacuation orders as some smoke clears up

Regional District of BulkleyNechako issued new, expanded evacuation orders for remote areas Saturday

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Most Read