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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map of the proposed location for the temporary workforce camp in Johnson Heights that is subject to a Temporary Use Permit from the city. (City of Revelstoke)
City council approves permit for worker camp in Johnson Heights

The permit was issued for two years in a close vote

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

Revelstoke Tim Hortons staff give a $3,139 cheque to Hannah Whitney and Jake Sloots (left side of cheque) from Community Connections. (Submitted)
Revelstoke Tim Hortons raises $3K for local food bank

The funds were do to the Smile Cookie campaign from Sept. 14 to 20

Revelstoke Mountain Resort has released additional details about upcoming winter operations. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Resort releases more details on upcoming operations

Opening day is scheduled for Nov. 27 in Revelstoke

The new traffic circle in Revelstoke will open Oct. 29. (Submitted/City of Revelstoke)
Roundabout to open Oct. 29

Ribbon cutting details to be released

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
UPDATE: Flames doused for second time at fatal Penticton apartment fire

The Elm Ave. building first caught fire around 4 a.m., killing two people and displacing dozens

Two have been taken to hospital following a vehicle crash north of Vernon on Highway 97 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Crash north of Vernon causes Highway 97 traffic delays

Emergency crews respond to two-vehicle incident near Swan Lake; occupants taken to hospital

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

(Submitted)
Penticton apartment fire claims two lives

An apartment on Elm Avenue went up in flames Tuesday morning

A Summerland woman has set up an online fundraiser to provide backpacks to those being released from correctional facilities.(ca.gofundme.com)
Summerland woman raising money for backpack program

Backpacks will be distributed to those being released from correctional facilities

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
15 cases of COVID-19 tied to Kelowna Francophone school outbreak

Three other schools in Kelowna are also dealing with potential exposure events

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Most Read