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

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

For the first time, College of New Caledonia will give out entrance awards for 2019-20

CNC has dedicated $100,000 towards 94 student awards as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations

Quesnel and area residents can witness total lunar eclipse Jan. 20

Totality will occur in the evening of Sunday, Jan. 20, so you don’t have to stay up late to see it

Forestry Hockey league: Week 16 highlights

Serenity put blanket over Fraser River Stars and Bear doubles up BCS

Quesnel Kangaroos split pair of games at home

Lose 7-4 to Terrace but prevail 5-2 versus Kitimat

First Nation supporters march to Horgan’s MLA office

Dozens marched across the Greater Victoria community of Langford to support the Wet’suwet’en people

Ratfish generates social media buzz on Vancouver Island

Boneless, glowing creature a common bycatch, but it usually stays in deep waters – fish expert

UPDATE: Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash

Most Read