Former BC Mines Minister now director at project-generating junior

Bill Bennett with BC Premier Christy Clark.

Bill Bennett, British Columbia’s former Minister of Mines and Energy, has quit politics and joined Eagle Plains Resources (TSXV:EPL) as a director.

Bennett served as Mines Minister three times during his 16 years as an MLA (member of the legislative assembly), but chose not to run again in the May 9 provincial election. His appointment to Eagle Plains comes just three days after finishing out his term as Minister of Mines and Energy.

“There are few people in Canada who have such a strong combined knowledge of government processes, of the mining industry and of First Nations”: Eagle Plains Resources on the appointment of Bill Bennett as director 

“There are few people in Canada who have such a strong combined knowledge of government processes, of the mining industry and of First Nations,” Eagle Plains wrote in a statement announcing Bennett’s appointment, adding that Bennett led the BC government’s efforts to restore the province’s competitiveness for exploration investment, including improving the permitting process and helping to launch BC’s First Nations mine revenue sharing program.

He will replace Ron Netolitzky, a Canadian Mining Hall of Fame inductee who helped spin-out Copper Canyon Resources through to its eventual merger with NovaGold Resources (TSX:NG) in 2011. NovaGold owns the development-phase Galore Creek copper-gold-silver project. Netolitzky will continue on as an advisor to Eagle Plains Resources.

The Cranbrook-based company (in the same East Kootenay area that Bennett served as MLA) is a project generator with a portfolio of Western Canadian properties containing gold, base metals, uranium, rare earth elements and industrial minerals. Among its business strategies, Eagle Plains says it aims to exposure investors to discovery and eventual mineral production via royalties on properties that Eagle Plains has sold to other companies.

Meanwhile Bennett is being replaced as Mines Minister by Rich Coleman, who previously managed the portfolio and most recently served as Minister of Housing and Minister of Natural Gas Development. The governing BC Liberals are currently in a precarious situation having failed to win a majority of seats in the May 9 election.

On Monday Premier Christy Clark and her cabinet were officially sworn in, but Clark is expected to recall the legislature on June 22 for a confidence vote she will very likely lose. The Liberals won 43 seats in the 87-seat legislature, not enough to put them in majority territory. The NDP won 41 seats and the Green Party claimed three. The two opposition parties have agreed to an informal alliance that would topple the Liberals, who have governed BC for the past 16 years.

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