Mining enthusiasts gathered at the Causeway Bay Hotel on May 8 to celebrate 2015’s B.C. Mining Week — a week dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the importance of the mining industry in British Columbia.
This year, mining week was celebrated from May 3-9, with communities throughout the province, including Sparwood, taking part in mining activities, including guided mine tours.
Several council members from the District of Sparwood, the District of Elkford and the City of Fernie and Mayor Mary Giuliano and Mayor Cal McDougall made their way to the Causeway Bay Hotel to enjoy a luncheon and presentations put on by prominent players in the mining industry.
Mining Association of British Columbia’s Vice President, Environment & Technical Affairs, Angela Waterman commenced the speeches, highlighting the importance of mining and recognizing the significant amount of funds that were raised by the mining industry this year for the BC Children’s Hospital.
“Over $1 million was raised for the BC Children’s Hospital,” Waterman said, adding that a significant amount was raised by Teck Coal, including over $90,000 that was brought in by Teck Coal Vice President, Operations, Coal, Robin Sheremeta. “Mining is a must have. I’m passionate about mining and I’m thrilled to be here in Sparwood,” she added.
Focusing on the importance of the mining industry in the Elk Valley, East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett thanked the crowd for the opportunity to attend the mining week celebrations, adding, “It’s really a tremendous opportunity for all of us to come together and celebrate the importance of mining.”
Bennett went on to say, “I suspect we all understand that if it weren’t for mining this place would look different, we would all look different. We have to constantly remind ourselves that without mining, we wouldn’t have any of the stuff you’re looking out right now.”
Elk Valley mining statistics were also outlined during the presentations.
Port Metro Vancouver representative Jim Candles noted that one in five Kootenay residents work in the mining industry.
Despite these figures and the emphasis on the value of mining in B.C., downfalls and opposition to mining were pointed out.
Candles noted that one in five Metro Vancouver residents oppose the shipping of coal through Port Metro Vancouver.
“We are seeing increased opposition to what is the backbone of the Canadian economy in our resource sector,” he said.
Sheremeta was also on hand to discuss the recent challenges being faced by the mining industry.
“There’s a weakening of demand mixed with an oversupply of coal,” said Shermeta.
The Teck Vice President, however, noted that the mining industry in the Elk Valley is strong enough to recover from the recent weakening demand, adding, “We’ve got tremendously strong assets. We built an incredibly efficient and solid community.”
He continued, “What we’re looking at as a company is a long-term existence of [mining] in this valley.”
The speeches were concluded with a brief presentation by Sparwood Chamber of Commerce Manager Norma McDougall, who highlighted upcoming chamber events, including the Coal Miner Days Golf Tournament scheduled for June 11.