Land claims and uncertain policies holding back mining investment in BC: report

Uncertainty about disputed land claims and government land-use policies area making Canada’s British Columbia a risky province for mining investors, concludes the latest study published Thursday by public policy think-tank Fraser Institute.

According to British Columbia’s Mining Policy Performance, the scenario has put some mining companies in a tricky situation, as they must deal with several aboriginal groups with overlapping and differing claims in a single area.

“Miners must have confidence in the stability, predictability, and transparency of the policy environment in which they operate,” said Kenneth P. Green, senior director of the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Natural Resources.

“While B.C. is no longer viewed as hostile to mining, sustained efforts are needed in resolving disputed land claims, providing finality on the two-zone land system, and building investor confidence in being able to develop deposits in a predictable and timely manner,” added lead author, economist Alana Wilson.

For investors, the lack of certainty is an unwelcome additional risk to the ones inherent to resource exploration and development projects. It is estimated that only one out of 5,000 projects can mature into a mine.

Other major hurdles identified in the study include vagueness around land being shifted into parks and wilderness areas, environmental regulations that may not be consistent, and duplicate federal and provincial responsibilities for mine project reviews.

One of the rising worries discussed in the report is the potential for miners to favour brownfield areas where aboriginal, land use and regulatory issues are settled.

“That would mean fewer opportunities for exploration companies to identify new mineral deposits to support the BC economy in the future,” the report concluded.

Image: Screenshot of First Nation march, via YouTube