Since late 2013, seven mines in B.C. have been shut down – casualties of prolonged low commodity prices.
Four were metallurgical (“met”) coal mines; three were metals mines. And later this year, when it has run through its stockpile of copper, Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX:III) plans to suspend operations at its Huckleberry mine to bring the total to eight.
“We’re pretty sure the only significant coal mines operating in the province for the remainder of the year will be the Teck [Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B)] coal mines,” Mark Platt, mining sector lead for PwC, told a group of Vancouver industry representatives last week at a release of its annual mining survey.
Based on its survey of 14 operating mines, one smelter and 12 exploration and development-stage projects in B.C., PwC estimates 2,000 direct mining jobs were lost in B.C. to mine closures or downsizing.
Capital expenditures fell from $1.8 billion in 2013 to $1.2 billion in 2015, and net mining revenues fell from $7 billion in 2013 to $6.3 billion in 2015. The good news is that a five-year-long mining bear market appears to be over, say industry leaders, who predict 2016 will be the year that mining in B.C. begins its recovery.
“Conditions are challenging, but hopefully we’ve reached the bottom,” Platt said. Gavin Dirom, CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia, echoed that sentiment. “I’m going to go out on a limb and just say I think the worst is behind us. We couldn’t say that last year.”
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