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VICTORIA — The B.C. government is planning to impose new fees on the mining industry, saying the sector should bear the cost for better services. “It will give the ministry an opportunity to bring a few more resources in to improve our performance,” Mines Minister Bill Bennett told the legislature Thursday.
But the industry is calling the move “punitive” and warns it will undermine already-fragile small-scale mining companies.
Just two years ago, the B.C. Liberal government restored ministry resources for services such as permit approvals, at Mr. Bennett’s urging. He had argued that government service cuts had “starved” the “dirt ministries” – those governing mining, forests and oil and gas – to the point that economic growth was being choked.
Now, the province wants mining to pay for those restored services. But the opposition NDP said Thursday the changes are ill-timed.
“This new tax will be felt more profoundly by the smaller exploration companies, placer miners and prospectors – the backbone of the industry,” said mining critic Scott Fraser. “How much are mining companies going to be hammered by this new stealth tax?”
Mr. Bennett would not say how much the new fees are expected to bring in to government coffers, but ministry officials later said it is expected to bring in about $5.5-million a year, if the fees remain at the levels that are currently proposed.
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