Column: some economic bright spots ahead for Cariboo

The mining industry posted a solid year

Although the Cariboo experienced some economic challenges in 2017, our region had a generally favourable year compared to the past few years. NAFTA renegotiations, the summer wildfires, and layoffs at Site-C impacted jobs in the forestry, tourism, and construction sectors. However, the mining industry posted a solid year as prices for copper and gold stimulated economic activity, which helped to offset those losses.

The forestry industry is a mainstay of our economy and had a challenging year in 2017. According to CPABC’s Regional Check-Up report, layoffs in forestry and logging were responsible for most of the 1,300 job reductions in the forestry, fishing, mining, and oil and gas sector. The wildfires kept loggers out of the woods and dampened other forestry-related activities. In addition, wood products manufacturing, our region’s primary manufacturing industry, experienced a reduction of 200 jobs due to a decline in demand from the U.S., dwindling stocks of mountain pine beetle-killed wood, and temporary mill shutdowns. Furthermore, a fire that destroyed a sawmill in McBride also put 35 people out of work. However, some of the job losses in wood products were offset by new ones in paper products manufacturing as international demand for pulp increased in 2017.

The construction industry reduced its workforce by 700 jobs due to layoffs at the Site-C Project in Northeast BC, a decline in commercial construction activity, and a slowing of major project development. According to the Regional Check-Up report, projects that are currently under construction make up almost five per cent of the total value of our region’s major project inventory, which was $10.2 billion in 2017. This translates into a significant number of projects either proposed or on hold. With the provincial government’s commitment to continuing on with the Site-C project and the federal government’s support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project, it is anticipated that these projects will be bright spots for our region’s construction industry as it provides workers to these projects, even though most related activity may be outside of the Cariboo.

In contrast, our region’s mining industry fared reasonably well. Higher prices for some metals, in particular gold and copper, stimulated mineral exploration and increased overall output at our mines. The Bonanza Ledge gold mine east of Quesnel re-opened in 2017, creating about 90 direct jobs and spin-off employment at local businesses. Although both the Mount Polley and Gibraltar mines were forced to temporarily scale back their operations due to the forest fires, production increased at both mines compared to 2016. In addition, the Mt. Milligan open-pit copper-gold mine north of Prince George experienced some unexpected maintenance issues, which reduced mine output below target.

Looking forward, what could we expect for our region? The ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. and the management of our region’s timber supply will continue to be the top challenges for our forestry industry. However, lumber prices are expected to remain high in 2018, and plans to further diversify into new markets may mitigate some of the anticipated losses. Prices for the Cariboo’s key metals, gold and copper, remained high in early 2018, and the price of molybdenum also increased, pointing to a promising year ahead for our mining industry.

Stan Mitchell, CPA, CA is a partner at KPMG LLP in Prince George. The CPABC Regional Check-Up report is available online at: www.bccheckup.com.

Just Posted

Quesnel Kangaroos bounce Prince Rupert Rampage

Alessio Tomassetti gets four points in 8-4 shootout win at West Fraser Centre

Alzheimer Society of B.C. creates provincial dementia helpline

No one should have to face the journey alone, says organization

Column: report card for professional reliance experiment

Columnist Jim Hilton on a recent Environmental Law Centre review

Local Toastmasters club improves confidence, leadership skills

The meetings take place every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at CNC

Letter: ignore the hype and vote

“Claims made by either side are often entirely contradictory. Who do you trust?”

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Most Read