The budget included "meaningful support" for local exploration and mining companies, the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) said. These measures include more funding to the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources ministry for new staff to increase oversight, improve permitting timelines and support indigenous engagement, all of which are key priorities for the industry.
BC's budget 2019 provides the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources ministry with close to C$20 million over three years to fulfil the government's commitments to improve permitting and increase industry safety by establishing an independent oversight unit. This investment would allow the ministry to hire up to 65 new full-time employees over three years, the budget documents showed.
The ministry will establish a new Mines Health, Safety and Enforcement division, with an increased number of mines inspectors and a new auditing function; this new division will be separate and independent from a Mines Competitiveness and Authorisations division.
The provincial government expects revenue from mineral tax, fees and miscellaneous mining receipts to decline an average of 25.5% annually over the next three years, mainly due to assumed weakening coal prices and increasing mine production costs. This reflects higher capital expenditures and transportation costs.
The government said coal prices were forecast to decline due to global surplus supply mainly reflecting expected lower demand from China.
Natural resource revenues are forecast to average a 7.1% annual decline over the three years. This mainly reflected declining revenues from the mineral tax on coal mine operations, bonus bids and rents on drilling licences and leases and forests, government said.
These declines were partly offset by higher natural gas royalties in the next three years compared to 2018/19, the government said.
The AME has welcomed the budget, saying government has taken on board the recommendations put forward through its involvement in the Mining Jobs Task Force in late 2018.
During the January Roundup event staged by AME, premier John Horgan announced government would make permanent the Mining Flow-Through Share tax credit and the BC Mining Exploration Tax Credit, which illustrated a commitment to support a strong and sustainable future for the benefit of BC residents, AME president Edie Thome said.
"Collaboratively, the Mining Jobs Task Force will continue to work together to grow the mining industry, support long-term community sustainability and promote reconciliation with indigenous peoples while ultimately working towards contributing to our low-carbon future," she said.