Thiessen, Clark tout growth at mining conference

Mayor Gerry Thiessen left Minerals Roundup conference both enthused and optimistic about mining opportunities in Vanderhoof.

Mayor Gerry Thiessen left the Minerals Roundup conference in Vancouver both enthused and optimistic about mining opportunities in Vanderhoof and elsewhere.

On a fact-finding mission on behalf of council, Thiessen talked with numerous representatives of companies conducting mineral exploration in Vanderhoof and Fort St. James. He also spoke with delegates from one of the largest gold companies in the world, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“It’s an interesting time and we as a community need to make sure we’re aware of that and take advantage of good things, doing what we can to eliminate any deficit in our social ability, security, or health care,” he said.

Almost 8,000 people attended the three-day international mining exploration conference. By the time Thiessen left, he said his head was pounding from the enormity of the event.

Thiessen also had conversations with high-ranking officials from the B.C. government, including Steve Thompson, Minister of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations, as well as Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine and mining critic for the NDP Party of B.C, about the town’s strategic location amid so much mining and exploration activity.

Increasingly, people in Vanderhoof are asking for amenities like a community centre, a theatre, an aquatic facility and a new college campus, all of which will attract skilled trades people to Vanderhoof, said Thiessen.

“From what I sense, this is a really, really exciting time to be in Vanderhoof, and so much is going to hinge on involvement of residents,” he said.

At the conference, Premier Christy Clark welcomed delegates with a prediction of record investment in the B.C. industry this year.

“Last year, as you know, was a record-breaking year for mining exploration, $462 million,” Clark said in a speech that previews the coming election campaign.

“Compare that to the 1990s, when $26 million a year in exploration was underway. We’ve come a long way in 12 years, and it’s pretty tough to beat those record-breaking years.”

She predicted that mark will be shattered with another 47 per cent increase, mostly due to a few large projects underway now.

While exploration is up, five mining expansions are permitted to proceed in the province.

They are: Endako Mines’ molybdenum mine at Fraser Lake in Central B.C.; Teck’s Highland Valley copper mine at Logan Lake in the Okanagan; Huckleberry Mine, an open-pit copper and molybdenum mine near Dease Lake in northwestern B.C.; Quinsam Coal, an underground thermal coal mine on Vancouver Island; and Elkview, a Teck metallurgical coal mine near Sparwood in the Kootenays.

Conference delegates applauded another recent development, the first mineral royalty sharing agreements with aboriginal people for Huckleberry Mine and New Afton, an expansion of a Kamloops-area copper mine.

Clark also touted an improvement in permit approval times for land and water use as well as “notice of work” permits. The waiting time has been reduced from 110 days to 80 days, and another $7 million will be spent to get it down to 60 days, she said.

NDP mining critic Doug Donaldson said the B.C. Liberal government is still working to fix a problem it created, when mining permit time went from 55 days in 2007 to 110 days by 2011. The 60-day target for notice-of-work permits was supposed to be met in November, Donaldson added.

Clark also took aim at another prominent election issue, the need for skilled trades training. She said the public school system is making a mistake when it spends 13 years and billions of dollars, then tells students they need a degree before they can work.

High schools and post-secondary institutions are getting new equipment and more access to instructors so they can enter the workforce sooner, she said.

“Let’s cut completion time for trades training in half, and let’s stop training people for jobs that don’t exist,” Clark said.

A major part of the NDP campaign for the May election will be focused on overall cuts to post-secondary funding in recent B.C. Liberal budgets.

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read