Nothing lasts forever.
The COVID-19 pandemic will end and, eventually, so will the economic after-effects.
Without a doubt, however, the latter will be with us for some time.
There has been a lot of criticism of late about the mining and mineral exploration industries being designated essential services.
But they are, in the short-term both for the livelihoods they provide for people and for the raw materials they provide to the fight against the virus.
More importantly, though, is the long-term. Particularly here in northwest B.C., these industries will be critical as we grapple to re-start our on-pause economy.
Over the past couple of years, the British Columbia government has made a big commitment to mining and mineral exploration.
This includes financial support for the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance—a partnership of First Nations, mining companies and government—and making mining flow-through share and the B.C. mining exploration tax credits permanent.
Last year, mineral exploration pumped $180 million into the economy of the Northwest.
Once pandemic restrictions are lifted and the full extent of damage to the economy and government relief spending is known, it will be very tempting for governments to pull back on investments in mining and exploration.
Throughout COVID-19, metal prices have remained strong. This may be partially because production is down as mines implement physical distancing and sanitation measures, but it is also because of a strong movement of transitioning toward a less oil-dependent future.
That industry could be in big trouble—negative pricing on oil, who would have ever thought?
The minerals we have in the ground in northern B.C. are precisely the commodities the world will need for the transition.
At the annual Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. (AME) Roundup in February, Kendra Johnston, AME president underscored the importance.
“Building a sustainable future that preserves the environment while also being economically robust is important to all British Columbians,” she said. “That future requires new and innovative technologies that depend on the types of minerals and metals found in BC.”
We hope the provincial government does not throw any water on this particular ember of recovery.
In fact, B.C. should probably double down on mining and mineral exploration.