WILLIAMS LAKE – Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett today announced action to help keep thousands of B.C.’s metal and coal mines workers on the job by allowing mining companies to temporarily defer a portion of their hydro bills – supporting families and communities during the current slowdown in the sector due to low commodity prices.
“Rural communities across B.C. depend on the high-paying jobs that their mines provide residents,” said Bennett. “We are in the midst of a challenging time for the sector and this will provide some temporary support to help the mines stay open as long as possible, hopefully until commodity prices bounce back.”
Under the five-year term of the program, which will be delivered by BC Hydro, companies operating metal and coal mines in B.C. will be able to defer a portion of their BC Hydro electricity payments.
The amount any mine will be allowed to defer is capped at the equivalent of up to 75% of its electricity costs over two years of the program. As commodity prices recover, the mines will repay the amounts deferred, plus interest.
“With Family Day right around the corner, I think it’s important to remember that mining provides thousands of families with good paying jobs,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “This industry is the economic lifeblood of many communities in this province.”
Low copper and coal prices have put operations at a number of British Columbia mines at risk and some have already been forced to reduce production and employee levels. There are currently eight metal mines and five coal mines operating in the province, employing approximately 7,500 workers.