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BC miners still doing it tough

British Columbia miners are facing another year of revenue contraction after lower commodity prices reduced the industry's 2019 top line by an estimated 8% to $11.4 billion, PwC research indicated.
BC miners still doing it tough BC miners still doing it tough BC miners still doing it tough BC miners still doing it tough BC miners still doing it tough

Copper Mountain operations in British Columbia

Staff Reporter

PwC says sector volatility became more pronounced by the end of 2019, with coal and copper, key exports of Canada's westernmost province, falling 10% and 8%, respectively. Gold gained 10% on averaged over the previous year.

In the near term COVID-19 is expected to continue to dampen the outlook for price recovery.

PwC estimated BC mining capital expenditure was $1.5 billion in 2019, compared with $1.1 billion in 2018. The increase was mainly due to higher spending at Teck Resources' coal operations. Exploration and development expenditures were $277 million in 2019, reflecting an increase from $248 million the year before due mainly to higher levels of gold exploration.

There were 11,784 people directly employed by BC mining companies in 2019, down slightly from 11,930 in 2018. Total payments to governments increased to $1.1 billion from $953 million in 2018, driven in part by higher taxes.

PwC BC mining leader Mark Patterson said despite tough times for the industry generally, it had built good resilience in recent years and made good progress on the environmental, social and governance front. He said the industry had an excellent health and safety track record and solid relationships with stakeholders, including local communities, indigenous groups, and governments.

"The environmental, social and governance work that has already been established in BC has the potential to create an internationally-recognised Made in BC label," he said.

"High environmental standards, strong relationships with communities, and the unwavering commitment to health and safety, will help BC mining companies succeed in uncertainty."

Patterson said BC miners had been prudent with capital spending and expansion in the decade since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, and following a prolonged period of lower commodity prices.

BC's mining industry continued to operate during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting in part good collaboration with governments, public health officials and employees to ensure mines were operating safely.

Patterson said BC's carbon tax, while an added expense for miners, had spurred innovation and boosted the industry's reputation as an active participant in the transition to a low-carbon economy.