Premier Clark’s best move speeding up approvals for dozens of new mining projects – Vancoucer Sun Editorial (Vancouver Sun – October 11, 2011)

The Vancouver Sun, a broadsheet daily paper first published in 1912, has the largest circulation in the province of British Columbia.

Premier Christy Clark’s pledge recently to accelerate approvals for mining projects is a rare ray of light in the gloom of economic stagnation.

With weak GDP growth, fiscal deficits, slumping stock markets, high household debt and a slight improvement in personal disposable income for much of the past decade, the prospect of eight new mines opening and another nine expanding by 2015 should prove a game-changer for British Columbia.

These projects are expected to create 1,800 new, well-paid jobs in communities where good jobs are hard to find. The average annual wage in mining last year was $108,100, income that will support families and local businesses and provide tax revenue for government to spend on what people say matters to them, namely health care and education. Besides jobs on and under the ground, mining supports auxiliary jobs in Vancouver and other urban centres where the financing, accounting, regulatory and legal work are done.

Mining contributed nearly $700 million in payments to governments last year; up from just over $400 million in 2009, as the industry experienced a resurgence after decades in the doldrums. In fact, Copper Mountain was the first new copper mine to open since 1998 and it didn’t happen overnight. It took four years to take Copper Mountain from the granting of drilling permits in 2007 to its opening in August of this year. And it’s a brownfield mine, meaning it is situated on the site of a previous mine. Approvals for greenfield mines take much longer.

The mining projects Clark has in mind were not disclosed but the New Afton copper and gold mine near Kamloops, Mt. Mulligan, another copper-gold play near Prince George, and the Red Chris mine, an open-pit copper and gold mine in the northeast of the province, are likely on the list. A revised proposal for the Prosperity Mine near Williams Lake, previously approved by B.C. but rejected by former federal environment minister Jim Prentice, may also be fast-tracked.

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