Canada: BC Mining Jobs Task Force Report

On December 19, 2018, the British Columbia Mining Jobs Task Force (the "Task Force") submitted their final report (the "Report") to the provincial government. The 12-member Task Force was created in February 2018 and included representatives from industry, First Nations, municipal and provincial government, an environmental non-governmental organization, labour, post-secondary/training and the financial sector. The Task Force was mandated with developing recommendations for the government to grow the mining sector and create jobs across the province. The Report includes 25 recommendations divided into 5 areas of strategic focus.

  1. Supporting a Healthy and Diverse Workforce

With an estimated 25% of the mining workforce expected to retire within the next 5 years, the Task Force has identified the need to grow its manning reserves. The Task force recommended implementing programs to attract women into the mining industry and provide opportunities and reduce barriers for Indigenous people. The creation of a natural resource staffing database to support workforce transition was also recommended. The Task Force also suggested updating the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in BC (the "Code"). As the Code regulates the mining industry, worker safety and is the foundation for inspections, compliance and enforcement, the Task Force proposed having a governing body to ensure that the regulations are kept current and modernized to protect mining workers.

  1. Realizing Community Benefits

While BC was the first province to institute revenue sharing with Indigenous communities through the use of Economic and Community Development Agreements (the "EDCA"), the Task Force suggested reviewing the economic partnerships with Indigenous communities. The Task Force emphasised the importance of including Indigenous communities in resource projects through the development of community trusts, equity ownership in major projects, and the funding of the Indigenous Stewardship and Monitoring Initiatives. The Task Force opines that these actions will enhance environmental performance and involvement in environmental monitoring in mineral exploration and mining projects while ensuring the establishment of best practices for supporting the health and well-being of communities impacted by the natural resources sector.

  1. Enhancing BC's Fiscal and Regulatory Competitiveness

The Task Force stressed the importance of investing in measures to improve fiscal and regulatory competitiveness to encourage the development and expansion of new and existing mining operations. The provincial government has already taken this advice and made permanent the Mining Flow-Through Share (the "MFTS") tax credits and the BC Mining Exploration Tax Credits (the "METC"). The MFTS provides a non-refundable BC income tax credit to individuals who have purchased flow-through shares from a BC mining company. The METC is a refundable income tax credit for eligible individuals and corporations conducting grassroots mineral exploration in BC. While both have been made permanent at 20%, the Task Force has suggested a three year trial period at 35% for the MFTS and 30% for the METC. The government decision to make the credits permanent is intended to create more certainty and incentives to invest in the BC mining industry.

  1. Fostering Innovation

As expectations for responsible and progressive best practices have become the norm, the Task Force is pushing for the development of innovative technologies and new approaches to minimize the environmental impacts of mining operations while enhancing competitiveness. The Task Force proposed funding the development of a BC Innovation Roadmap which outlines a path for growth and innovation while building on BC's leading expertise to create a global hub for research and innovation.

  1. Building Awareness of Mining's Role in a Prosperous BC

The Task Force found that British Columbians have not traditionally understood or supported the mining industry's role in job creation and its positive influence on regional communities. The Task Force suggested that the public perception on the mining industry will change through the use of higher operational standards and an emphasis on contributions to the economy. The Task Force proposed holding public forums to increase public understanding while simultaneously supporting the implementation of educational strategies. In addition, the Task Force suggested the coordination of mine-sector branding with the recently launched CleanBC plan to enhance and market a clean BC brand internationally.

The government has reviewed all actions contained in the Report and has developed a plan to study, develop and implement the actions through a multi-stage approach. In support of the recommendations, the BC government is increasing its investment in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to ensure the availability of resources to improve mining application processes and industry safety and oversight. In addition, the government is committing $1 million to develop a mining innovation roadmap, and an additional $1 million for the continuation and expansion of the Regional Mining Alliance, which promotes mining, mineral exploration, and Indigenous partnerships throughout the province.

Further details on how the provincial government will address the Task Force's recommendations will be shared when Budget 2019 is released on February 19th, 2019.

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