B.C. mining and exploration grew last year for the first time since 2012

British Columbia’s mining and exploration industry saw increasing signs of life last year, growing for the first time in five years, according to the results of an EY survey released March 5.

Exploration spending increased 20% across the province in 2017, reaching $246 million, compared with $205 million in 2016. The increase was largely driven by gold exploration, which totalled $37 million, and the majority of this was due to higher activity in B.C.’s Cariboo and Golden Triangle regions.

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“Last year, we saw a revitalization of the B.C. exploration industry, primarily due to a stronger Canadian economy and an improved commodity price outlook,” said EY Canada’s mining and metals advisory service leader Iain Thompson.

“And, without the impact of the devastating wildfire season, expenditures would have likely been even higher.”

Silver exploration spending also jumped, more than doubling to $9.8 million last year, and zinc increased 50% to $8.2 million, mostly due to price increases.

Coal exploration bucked the trend, however, falling 18%. This drop was largely responsible for a 75% decline in exploration in B.C.’s Northeast region.

Jonathan Buchanan, director of corporate affairs for the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME), said the increase in exploration is “reassuring.”

“We’re also encouraged to hear survey respondents remain committed to working with First Nations when sourcing new resource deposits to ensure benefits extend to the local or surrounding communities,” he said.

EY conducted the annual survey in conjunction with the Government of B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the AME. Results were based on the responses of 20 prospectors and 175 companies in operation across the province.

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