British Columbia (B.C.) is looking to bolster its mining industry by reviewing the province’s environmental assessment procedures.
Premier Christy Clark made the announcement on January 27, 2014 to the annual convention of the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C.
Clark said she has asked Environment Minister Mary Polak to review the B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office with a focus on making it “as effective and efficient as we possibly can.”
Following her speech at the convention, Clark said, “It is my belief that the (environmental assessment process) has gotten less certain, less predictable and probably not as efficient as people want.”
Currently, there are some 20 B.C. mine proposals that are undergoing an environmental assessment, Clark said.
The environmental assessment review comes as the federal Cabinet must make a final decision on Taseko Mines Ltd.’s controversial New Prosperity mine proposal. For the second time, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued a report that found the project would cause significant adverse environmental effects.
In late 2012, B.C.’s Supreme Court ordered Clark’s government to reopen the Environmental Assessment Office’s decision to reject Pacific Booker Minerals Ltd.’s application for a proposed $2.5-billion mine north of Smithers.
Clark told the convention’s delegates that she plans to extend the B.C.’s mining-exploration tax credit for 2014. At an estimated cost of $10 million for the 2014 fiscal year, Clark said she considers the tax credit a “small price to pay for the tremendous amount of investment it attracts (to B.C.).”
B.C.’s mining sector has been on the upswing. According to industry data, the province accounted for 20 per cent of all spending on Canadian mining activity in 2013, more than triple the spending around 2000-2001.