No unicorns or rainbows for British Columbia’s resource industries – by Justine Hunter ( Globe and Mail – January 24, 2016)

VICTORIA — The last bricks of coal from the Quinsam mines near Campbell River were hauled out of the ground last week. The once-mighty industry, with more than 150 years of history on Vancouver Island, will vanish once the processed ore is shipped out and the mine slips into care and maintenance.

Gary Gould, Quinsam Coal Corp.’s general manager, keeps hearing that the B.C. economy is leading the country and that there are jobs aplenty for skilled workers. “It’s hard to listen to that,” he admits. Brutal, really, when you are busy overseeing the company’s final shifts.

British Columbia’s coal companies have been hammered by sustained low commodity prices and, for the thermal coal producers on Vancouver Island, shrinking markets as the world looks for cleaner fuels.

But it is not an isolated patch of trouble in an otherwise bright outlook. The province’s resource industries are the weak link in the economy right now.

Right across the resource sector – mining, forestry and oil and gas – weak commodity prices are expected to continue for the coming year.

Government finances have recorded slumping resource revenues – a $180-million drop in revenue forecasts just in the first half of the fiscal year.

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