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High mineral exploration marks industry's revival

The revival of mining in British Columbia was underlined Monday with the release of exploration spending figures for 2010 that were more than double the amount for 2009.

Speaking at Mineral Roundup 2011, Minister of State for Mining Randy Hawes revealed $322-million was spent on mineral exploration last year. This represents the third-highest total in the province’s history and a 109 per cent increase on the $154-million spent in 2009.

By way of comparison, in 1999 mining exploration expenditures were only $25 million.

In addition to exploration spending, the mining industry invested more than $1 billion last year expanding existing operations and developing new mines in B.C. Exploration and mine development investments are both key indicators of mining’s future. 

Along with the construction and mine development underway at Copper Mountain, New Afton and Mt. Milligan mines in 2010, there were also major mine expansions at Endako, Gibraltar, Highland Valley Copper and Wolverine mines.

Mining in BC by the numbers

• Mining in B.C. is a $6-billion industry, as estimated for 2010.

• Mineral exploration spending rose to more than $322 million in 2010, more than doubling the 2009 figure of $154 million.

• B.C. has 10 coal mines and 10 metal mines in operation.

• There are more than 50 thriving industrial minerals mines in B.C. The total number of aggregate and industrial mineral pits and quarries is over 650.

•  There were 380 exploration projects active in the province in 2010.

•  In 2010, the price of metallurgical coal rose by 70 per cent, copper by 45 per cent, silver by 37 per cent and gold by 25 per cent from 2009.

•  In 2010, more than 28,400 people were employed in the minerals economy in over 50 B.C. communities: approximately 11,400 in mining, 2,700 in exploration and the rest in smelting, refining and downstream mineral processing.

• The mining industry invested more than $1 billion last year expanding existing operations and developing new mines in B.C.

• B.C. has approximately $25 billion of potential investment in new mining projects in the provincial Environmental Assessment system.

• At the end of 2010, 10 mines were in the environmental assessment process, six mines had been approved and another six were permitted and waiting to begin production. Another three mines are undergoing major expansion.