The prosperity of the OBAC region has long been reliant on its timber resources. However, the mountain pine beetle epidemic is expected to diminish opportunities in the forestry sector for several decades. Mineral exploration and mining have also been important to the region's economy, and the industry has considerable potential to play a more important role.
At present, molybdenum mining plays a major role in the region. Other mining resources in the area include copper, gold, and silver. Exploration expenditures in the OBAC region have grown from $15 million in 2004 (11% of the BC total) to $100 million in 2007 (24% of the BC total). The time is right to put in place measures that will allow the industry to expand and realize its full potential.
Additional mine developments in the region, and the important economic benefits they provide, can result from the implementation of this strategy. In 2007, average metal mines in BC had an annual production value of $272 million and had approximately 290 employees. The average annual salary and benefits for BC mine employees is approximately $100,000 per annum. The 20 mine projects in the BC Environmental Assessment review process in 2007 were collectively projected to provide 12,000 direct construction and operating jobs or, on average, 600 jobs per mine. It is clear that even one new mine development can make a major contribution to the region's economy.
OBAC, working with various levels of government, education, and the private sector, invited a representative working group to develop a vision of how the region could look in ten years in terms of minerals and mining development. This vision focuses on economic diversification and development of the region where residents can live, work, and train, inclusive of an active mining industry. The vision also sees a region that is an environmental leader through best practices for mineral exploration and mining activities, has the infrastructure needed to further develop the sector, and offers multiple mining education and training opportunities to educate and encourage an active and involved labour force.
The future should also feature improved communications and strengthened relationships between the regions, the province, the federal government, and First Nations. Improved communications will ensure fair and effective management of the resources. It will also ensure and that the region's citizens are directly involved in relevant decision-making for their communities.
Through the implementation of the recommendations and actions, the objectives presented below can be achieved. This will ensure that the region is recognized as having a vibrant minerals and mining sector which is environmentally sustainable and uses ecologically sound practices which protect the land and resources of th OBAC region.
The recommendations and actions have been developed based on these objectives. There are seven specific recommendations that OBAC believes will promote and welcome sustainable growth in mineral exploration and mining to the OBAC region. Under these recommendations, 24 specific actions are presented to serve as guide posts for future action planning and implementation of the strategy. OBAC is confident that if these recommendations and the associated actions are implemented, the objectives listed above and the vision presented in Section 1 will be achieved.
The seven recommendations are:
Further engagement with and between leaders of OBAC communities and local First Nations to identify regional and local level interests and opportunities and make new relationships a reality is a very high priority for the initial implementation phase.
Other important actions address the need for improved infrastructure for exploration and developmnet, a diverse and skilled labour force, improved resource information and removal of administrative barriers. These include:
These actions and overall implementation of this strategy will require key and timely decisions by the provincial and federal governments.
Detailed actions, rationales, and time lines are presented in Section 6 under the seven recommendations. There are 23 actions identified that can be taken by senior governments and individual organizations, or groups of organizations, to enhance and help build a welcoming environment for responsible mineral exploration and mine development.
BC Communities Benefiting from
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