Government of British Columbia Releases Critical Minerals Strategy Phase 1

Government of British Columbia Releases Critical Minerals Strategy Phase 1: The Strategy Aims to seize British Columbia’s generational opportunity of supplying the demand for clean technologies, advancing efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and positively delivering jobs, opportunities, and services to the people of the province.

Overview

As the much-awaited announcement to come from British Columbia’s annual Mineral Exploration Week, Premier Eby released Phase 1 of the made-in B.C. Critical Minerals Strategy. According to the Premier, this developing strategy affirms the province’s commitment to building a clean economy through sector expansion that aligns with the standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Strategy Phase 1 Highlights:

In addition to B.C. hosting 16 of Canada’s 31 critical minerals and being the country’s largest copper and molybdenum producer, the Government also highlighted the following natural business advantages to encourage collaboration with industry partners and Indigenous peoples:

  • Access to fully integrated port, rail, and road transportation systems.
  • Strong collaboration across all levels of government, including First Nations partners.
  • Energy that comes from 98% renewable sources.
  • Competitive taxes and strong fiscal incentives.
  • Diverse, skilled, highly educated, and multilingual workforce.
  • World-class geoscience data.
  • Global leader in climate action and ESG.

Vision

Guided by the Strategy, the Government’s vision is to advance responsible critical minerals development that will drive B.C.’s clean economy, deliver jobs and benefits for all British Columbians, while progressing reconciliation goals.

Goals

The B.C. Critical Minerals Strategy has three overarching goals:

  • Expand First Nations partnerships, shared decision making and reconciliation.
  • Increase business certainty to attract investment.
  • Establish funding partnerships to advance critical minerals projects.

Actions

In order to achieve the above goals, the Government will pursue the following actions:

  • Critical minerals project advancement – dedicated staff to prioritize critical minerals project advancement.
  • Dedicated permitting resources – to ensure efficient permit processing to bolster business certainty, reduce development times and attract long-term investment.
  • Critical minerals atlas – evaluates B.C.’s critical mineral endowment and builds awareness about opportunities for industry, First Nations, and the public.
  • Work with First Nations on critical minerals – continue to engage with First Nations and align B.C.’s Strategy with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council’s First Nations Critical Minerals Strategy.
  • Mineral Tenure Act modernization – in cooperation and collaboration with First Nations and First Nations organizations.
  • Energy & mines digital trust – promotes B.C.’s environmental, social, and corporate governance advantage and provides greater transparency for investors through B.C. government supported digital certificates.
  • Infrastructure & electrification gap assessment – to identify and develop business cases to address infrastructure gaps and barriers to critical mineral value chain development.
  • Critical minerals infrastructure partnership development – partner with the federal government and First Nations to identify and advance high priority regional infrastructure projects.
  • Invest in strategic regional critical minerals projects – leverage federal funding to enable critical minerals processing, manufacturing, and circular economy projects.
  • Fiscal environment assessment and targeted incentive program – to drive investment throughout the value chain, incentivize production, and maintain competitiveness.
  • StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan skills training & workforce development – optimize programs to meet workers and critical minerals sector skills and training needs.

Next Steps:

B.C.’s Critical Minerals Strategy is being developed through an inclusive, collaborative, and data-driven approach that is in alignment with the province’s long-term priorities.

To bolster this collaborative approach, additional engagements with First Nations groups are set to occur, followed by further analysis and strategy development until the ‘What We Heard Report’ and finalized Critical Minerals Strategy is released in the coming months.

Insights:

While progressing British Columbia’s promising mining sector – which currently represents $7.4 billion to provincial GDP and 28% of the province’s export value – will be an economically advantageous feat, there are hurdles which the Government must first overcome to achieve its industry goals.

 

First and foremost, the finalized Strategy must ensure that it fosters a competitive fiscal environment. Since the introduction of Phase 1, this concern has been adamantly expressed by both industry and the political opposition due to the province’s output-based carbon pricing system, lack of investment incentives, and the far delayed strategy release date in comparison to fellow provinces and the federal government.

 

Secondly, the environmental considerations and consequences tied to advancing the sector must be balanced. As abandoned mines rank among the tops sources of pollution in the province, the finalized Strategy will need to outline its plans for recycling materials and environmental safeguards in order to not scorn the province’s sizable voter population who are sympathetic to climate consciousness and natural resource conservation.

 

Finally, the Government must truly advance reconciliation and meaningful collaboration with Indigenous Peoples for a just and flourishing mineral economy. Necessary to foster this, the province must resolve the legal challenges and injustices caused by the online claim staking system and the duty to consult for mining projects on Indigenous territories, as well as modernize the Minerals Tenure Act.

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