Economic uncertainty clouds Premier’s Natural Resources Forum – by Derrick Penner (Vancouver Sun – January 14, 2015)

Coal, copper prices have stalled, but forestry is rebounding and LNG potential remains

The provincial government’s 12th annual Premier’s Natural Resources Forum will convene next week in Prince George with a cloud shading some of the sunny optimism that has shone on British Columbia’s resource industries in recent years.

“The big story is the overall global setting and global backdrop, and for commodities, that’s relatively weak,” said Ken Peacock, vice-president and chief economist for the Business Council of B.C.

Peacock added that it is not all gloom though. While slower growth in Asia has curbed prices for commodities such as steelmaking coal and copper — dulling the prospects for B.C. mining — forestry is experiencing more of a rebound due to recovery of the American economy.

However, the province’s central interior is still buoyed by existing activity in the resource sectors, according to Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George Mackenzie, and resource-sector businesses remain pragmatic about planning for the future in cyclical industries.

“We’re still very optimistic that (liquefied natural gas) is going to move ahead,” Morris said. Morris, whose office played a big role in organizing the event, is expecting up to 600 delegates for the forum, mostly people involved in industry service businesses.

The Sun talked to key participants in forum panel discussions to get their perspective on prospects in their respective industries.


Colleen Giroux-Schmidt, senior director, regulatory affairs, Innergex

BC Hydro, the province’s electrical utility, hasn’t opened up a broad-based tender for new independent power projects since 2008, but Giroux-Schmidt remains optimistic about the future for her part of the energy sector.

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