FCM international program visits Elkford

Key players in the coal mining industry from Colombia, Peru and the Elk Valley discussed mining relations and mining practices.

Key players in the coal mining industry from Colombia, Peru and the Elk Valley made their way to the Elkford Community Conference Centre on Wednesday, June 3 to discuss mining relations and mining practices.

Industry and government representatives, including a representative from Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and representatives from the Federation of Colombian Municipalities, were eager to learn about the Elk Valley’s mining industry, focusing mainly on their positive community relations.

Delegates from the foreign mining sectors were in admiration of the positive government relationships with the mining industry. Participants were also keen to discuss the tax revenue agreements that allow mining to continue in local communities like the Elk Valley.

“We understand the role coal mining plays in the economic development but also in the livelihoods of people here,” Program Director of Inclusive Communities in Latin America (CISAL) Christopher Yeomans said. “We were coming here to discuss how local communities have come together to negotiate better agreements, better tax revenue agreements with Teck and other companies here.”

Similar to the mining sector in B.C., mining in Colombia and Peru receives a lot of backlash due to concerns over environmental and social impacts.

In the Elk Valley, the mining industry directly surrounds communities like Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford.

In Colombia and Peru, however, mining often takes place in rural areas outside of the communities.

Due to an economic imbalance (poverty stricken communities versus the prosperous mining industry), mining is generally unaccepted and local authorities find it difficult to negotiate and work with communities, Yeomans said.

“To establish a mine, often you have to remove people from one area and put them somewhere else. That sometimes creates conflict and friction,” said Yeomans. “Here you can tell that in the Elk Valley, there’s a general acceptance that mining is the resource, the economic generator in the region. There’s actually quite a good relationship between the local governments and the people and mining company. That was quite eye opening for our partners.”

The goal of the conference was to educate global mining representatives on the mutual benefits of mining in B.C.

“We are looking to learn how to avoid problems,” Executive President of Sierra Exportadora Alfonso Velasquez Tuesta said, noting that for him, learning how to properly handle their working relationship with the community is key to a prosperous foreign mining industry.

Canada’s mining taxation was another area of interest for the global partners.

The implementation of the B.C. Mining Tax Act ensures that mining taxes are imposed by mines in two stages — a two per cent tax on net current proceeds and a 13 per cent tax on net revenue.

These types of regulations, however, do not exist in Peru and Colombia.

District of Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher highlighted the need for these taxes.

“We work very well with the mining industry,” McKerracher said of the municipal governments relationship with Teck. “They’ve been a great supporter of our community. They’ve helped us build our communities and strengthen our communities, and with the taxation from the mining, it just makes it that much easier for us to operate our municipalities.”

He went on to say, “It’s been a great working relationship so far.”

McKerracher noted the importance of their global partners developing and understanding how mining works in the Elk Valley.

Talks with global representatives went on until 1 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and were followed by a Fording Mine tour and a tour of downtown Elkford.d