"Right now, there are about 300 ongoing exploration projects in British Columbia, productively working with and building trusted relationships in 203 Indigenous communities."
How have the last 18 months been for the AME and how do you see the AME Roundup conference evolving following the pandemic?
AME Roundup is a conference hosted by explorers for explorers and it is the mineral exploration industry’s premier opportunity to connect, exchange ideas and inspire new exploration projects. The past 18 months have been challenging. Last year we hosted Remote Roundup, an entirely virtual conference, due to the pandemic. We were able to host a successful virtual conference but connecting online is not the same as networking in person. I am so proud of our members, supporters and staff for adapting to changes. Looking ahead, AME Roundup will probably forever be a hybrid event, opening the door for more people to join wherever they are in the world.
What are the core challenges the mining sector is currently facing and how is the AME supporting the industry?
At AME, we work to ensure a competitive and collaborative landscape in British Columbia, to unlock our vision of a vibrant, respected and growing mineral exploration sector: one that attracts global capital and leads the world in responsible exploration practices, champions smart geoscience, provides mutual benefit to all stakeholders and works collaboratively with Indigenous communities.
Demand for critical minerals continues to grow and we need to find more sources as these metals and minerals are vital in everything we use today and everything we need for tomorrow - from EV batteries and solar panels to aerospace and defence. We need to attract the next generation of workers who want to be part of this search: we are in dire need of geologists, chemists, drillers and environmentalists to meet this demand.
Another great challenge is public perception. Our members discover new projects that can develop into operating mines, producing minerals and metals needed for everyday life. These materials are critical to achieving our low carbon future and ensuring a strong and vibrant provincial and Canadian economy for generations to come. We need to do a better job, as an industry, sharing this message with the general public.
What advice would you give to junior explorers struggling with delays in the supply chain?
The Canadian mining industry has had two excellent years of exploration with C$422 million going into the ground in 2020 and likely even more in 2021. This means that there are more companies drilling and more assays going to labs at a time when drilling companies and assay labs do not have the capacity to keep up with the demand. Investors require constant news flow and it is difficult for junior explorers to constantly publish results that are both timely and impactful. At AME we encourage everyone to keep working and doing their part to contribute to accelerating this process.
What does the mining sector need to be doing now to prepare for increased demand in upcoming years?
We need people. Seeds need to be planted at the high school and university level to encourage a passion for mining and mineral exploration in the next generation. We need to educate people that there are great careers in the mining industry in which one can also contribute to the green transition of the world.
Mineral explorers in British Columbia are regulated by some of the highest standards in the world. Meeting and exceeding these environmental, social, and governance standards is how our members do business. Building respectful and sustainable relationships with Indigenous communities is an important aspect of this commitment.
As the largest private-sector employer of Indigenous peoples in remote communities, the mineral exploration and mining industry is uniquely positioned to support efforts toward reconciliation. AME was an early advocate in recommending that governments share tax revenue generated from mining directly with local First Nations. Right now, there are about 300 ongoing exploration projects in British Columbia, productively working with and building trusted relationships in 203 Indigenous communities. British Columbia was the first province in Canada to introduce mineral resource revenue sharing on new mining projects and has placed a strong focus on community development to assist First Nations in achieving their social and economic goals. We recognize that reconciliation is an ongoing process and we are pleased to continue our leadership in this area and continue to share learnings with the wider industry.