Exploration for minerals in B.C. needed for the world’s transition to a low-carbon future has accelerated over the past two years, as the province’s mining industry hopes to demonstrate its commitment to the environment and reconciliation with First Nations.
“If we produce responsibly, those minerals and metals here in British Columbia, we have an outsized opportunity to provide those to a world that is seeking to transition to a lower carbon future,” said Michael Goehring, president and CEO of the Mining Association of B.C.
The association represents more than 40 companies and 30,000 workers who mine for copper, coal, zinc, silver, gold, lead and molybdenum.
Goehring said provincial regulations overseeing the industry, the province’s clean hydroelectric power, and collaboration with First Nations make B.C. unique in its ability to responsibly meet an expanding demand for minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.
Goehring said B.C.’s mines and smelters emit much lower levels of greenhouse gasses compared to those in other jurisdictions.
A recent World Bank report said demand for minerals needed for low-carbon technologies could increase by 500 per cent by 2050 and that responsible mining, with environmental safeguards, would be required if global climate goals were to be met.
In 2020 more than $500 million was spent in exploration in the province, according to B.C.’s Association for Mineral Exploration (AME). In 2021, exploration expenditures grew to nearly $700 million.
Kendra Johnston, president and CEO of the association, said all the activity is being done progressively.
“We have some of the strongest environmental, social and governance regulations in the world here in British Columbia,” she said.
Copper, which is used as a conductor for wind power, is in demand along with silver and molybdenum for solar panels.
Holdings of nickel in B.C. are now sought after for use in batteries for electric cars in addition to being used to produce stainless steel.
The Baptiste zone of the Decar Nickel District in Central B.C., where the FPX Nickel Corp. is hoping to unlock the third largest undeveloped nickel deposit in the world. (FPX Nickel Corp.)
Martin Turenne, president and CEO of FPX Nickel Corp., said he hopes his company’s Baptiste Nickel Project, located northwest of Prince George, could become a global supplier of nickel.
He said it’s the third largest undeveloped nickel deposit in the world, and if the project can move beyond exploration and study to extraction, it could produce up to 100 million pounds or more than 45 million kilograms of nickel each year.
Over the past 15 years, nickel has increased in price from about $2 per pound to $24 per pound.
“Yes these are certainly boom times for the mining industry in this province,” said Turenne.
Despite improvements to provincial …….