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B.C. mining sector expecting muted-return to activity province emerges from COVID

FILE: A haul truck carrying a full load drives away from a mining shovel at the Shell Albian Sands oilsands mine near Fort McMurray, Alta., Wednesday, July 9, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The mining sector in B.C. is among those industries looking for a re-start amid the pandemic.

Kendra Johnston, CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration, says they’re still working on COVID protocols to allow surveyors to head out into B.C.’s remote areas this summer to look for potential mining opportunities.

“During camp, they of course will be there for longer than the quarantine period so there’ll be quarantining most likely on both sides once they come out for their breaks and then when they head back in,” she says.

Johnston adds they want to ensure that anyone heading into camps doesn’t spread COVID. This included preventing the spread to vulnerable Indigenous communities.

“Making sure that they are safe in their communities and when they come out to site that they aren’t contracting anything from anybody else to take it back,” she says. “We have the most concern for our members who are going home into those communities and infecting people who, who aren’t related to the mining industry.”

Surveys by the AME show around three-quarters of B.C.’s mining companies do plan small-scale exploration this summer, meaning post-COVID mining activity is likely to be slow this year, but ramp up next year.

She says that while a number of members are having a difficult time financially, AME “saw one of the largest weeks in financing in a while, which happened last week, so money is starting to flow back into the market.”