Government of British Columbia Releases Discussion Paper on Future Critical Minerals Strategy

In effort to become a global supplier of critical minerals, the Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation has released a Discussion Paper to inform its budding provincial Critical Minerals Strategy.

The Provincial Mining and Mineral Landscape

Currently, British Columbia is Canada’s top producer of copper and has known deposits of 16 of the 31 critical minerals. Furthermore, mineral exploration and mining are considered foundational and key contributors to the provincial economy, especially in rural and remote communities where significant employment opportunities are supported. The province aims to grow upon the strong geological potential and the solid environmental, social, and governance performance of the mining sector that contributed $17.5 billion in production value and $7.3 billion in provincial gross domestic product in 2022. Through the development of its own strategy, the province aims to attract new investment, further meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, support the global green energy transition, and build upon its already commendable industry strengths to capitalize upon the critical mineral-intensive global transition to a green economy.

Pursued Strategy Approach

The British Columbia Critical Minerals Strategy aims to take a future-oriented approach that will provide enrichment to the entire value-chain and generational benefits to the whole province. This will be achieved through driving actions in the following six areas of focus:

1. Advancing Recognition and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Advancing recognition and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is an utmost priority of the Strategy. This will be bolstered on a greater scale by upholding the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, the Strategy will highlight opportunities to grow the critical minerals value chain, with the goal of seeing greater First Nations participation in critical minerals development through the respect and recognition of First Nations rights and titles. This will be supported through developing trust-based relationships that respect and uphold the title and rights of First Nations communities, increasing opportunities to promote further partnerships, and advancing an economic foundation (such as opportunities to create provincial targeted programs that build on revenue sharing and federal initiatives). 

 

2. Enhancing Public Geoscience

As public geoscience is considered the first stage in the mining life cycle and one of the principal enablers of mineral exploration, the province will continue to support and enhance public geoscience information. This will be pursued through sustained support of mineral exploration through the B.C. Geological Survey, which actively gathers data. Additionally, this will be further advanced through the soon release of a Critical Minerals of British Columbia Atlas, which will include detailed information on the province’s minerals found on the critical minerals list of key allies and trading partners and will provide a baseline of information on mineral potential. As additional actions, the Ministry is undertaking an economic and market analysis to build upon foundational geoscience knowledge, which will inform potential early prioritization efforts pertaining to minerals, resources, economic growth, low carbon technology impacts, employment opportunities, and value chain benefits.

 

3. A Competitive Fiscal and Regulatory Environment

The Government of British Columbia is aiming for its Strategy to reflect the initiatives in the federal version that will draw the global market, accelerate project development, and provide targeted support to the at times considered high-risk minerals investment industry. In order to create such a competitive and regulatory environment, the province is engaging in a wide range of activities that will support the advancement of near-term mining projects into final investment decisions and reconciliation with First Nations. Additional incentives implemented include the B.C. Mining Flow-Through Share Tax Credit and the B.C. Mining Exploration Tax Credit. Further consideration and exploration is being done by the Ministry as to whether there are additional fiscal tools that could go beyond the federal supports to advance the critical minerals sector in the province.

 

4. Innovation, Training and Environmental Stewardship

The province recognizes that the mining sector is transforming due to digitization, automation, workforce transformation, enhanced environmental stewardship, and the transition to a lower-carbon future. This offers an opportunity to enhance competitiveness, attract investment, and create economic growth while minimizing environmental impacts. While some likewise provincial efforts have been pursued, such as the Mining Innovation Roadmap and the Future Ready Action Plan, a recognition remains for the ongoing importance of collaboration between industry, educational institutions, and government agencies, especially in the development of training initiatives to address the specific needs of the critical minerals sector.

 

5. Infrastructure and Climate Action

Guided by the CleanBC Roadmap goals, the Government of British Columbia aims to invest in infrastructure opportunities for the mining sector. Potential supports of interest include power transmission and distribution systems, roads, port facilities, and in communities that are in close proximity to mines.

 

6. Public and Investor Outreach

As there has been an increase in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and risk analysis, the Government of British Columbia is currently establishing an ESG Centre of Excellence to ensure that socially and environmentally conscious and diverse investors are attracted to the province. ESG has been deemed key to the provincial expansion of the critical minerals industry and a means to rectify the found disconnect in public consciousness between the generated community support from technological advancements and the raw materials used to construct them. As such, the province is seeking to generate public support, spread awareness, and increase dialogues pertaining to the optimistic role of the provincial critical minerals industry.

Collaboration with the Government of Canada

The Government of British Columbia is and intends to continuously collaborate with the federal government on critical minerals opportunities and investments into the province. Furthermore, it aims for its Strategy to be complimentary to the federal Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy in pursued priorities, opportunities, and goals.

Next Steps

The province will consider the feedback received on the discussion paper and is maintaining its ambition for the release of its finalized and official British Columbia Critical Minerals Strategy in early 2024. To advance this timeline, a dedicated advisory committee will be co-chaired by ministry officials and the First Nations Leadership Council, and will also include committee participation from a dozen experts from the sector. This advisory committee will also collaborate to provide additional review on a draft strategy.

The complete Government of British Columbia Critical Minerals Strategy Discussion paper can be accessed at Critical-Minerals-Discussion-Paper2.pdf

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