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Vancouver: The Global Mining Hub

Publication: Global Business Reports
Issue: July 2019
Issue Title: British Columbia and Vancouver as a Global Mining Hub 2019

Days after the all-share merger between Barrick and Randgold became effective in January 2019, Newmont Mining Corporation entered into a definitive agreement with Goldcorp in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at US$10 billion to create Newmont Goldcorp, as Newmont announced it will move its North American regional operations office from Nevada to Vancouver. While few mining companies can match Goldcorp’s financial clout, the Vancouver-based major has one thing in common with hundreds of players across the value chain headquartered in B.C.: none of its operating mines or development projects are based in British Columbia.

Vancouver can lay claim to being the capital of world mining, with over 800 mining companies and juniors headquartered in the city, more than Toronto and Perth (home to the second and third most) combined. However, B.C. lags behind Québec and Ontario in terms of its ability to attract exploration activity and investment, according to a Fraser Institute report from July 2018, citing factors including onerous regulatory and permitting processes. 2017 saw the first increase in exploration spending in B.C. since 2012, an indication that enthusiasm is returning to the province’s domestic industry. Nonetheless, the real driver of Vancouver’s mining economy has become its global reach: “Vancouver is truly a mining hub as well as a leading service center for the mining industry. Canada’s leadership at extracting natural resources, and Vancouver’s unlimited expertise in the sector, leads many to headquarter in Vancouver and then export knowledge around the globe,” observed Bryan Cox, president and CEO of the Mining Association of B.C. (MABC).

This sentiment was echoed by Ken Embree, managing principal and president of Knight Piésold, the engineering and environmental consultancy that helps clients understand the regulatory regimes in which their projects are situated: “Many of our Canadian clients have mining properties in other areas of the world... We encourage them to apply the same innovative developments, technologies and best practices to all their operations, including their projects located outside of Canada.”

Global law firm Dentons has also noticed the evolving operational footprint of its clients: “Until a couple of years ago, Dentons was primarily focused on the mining industry in Canada and B.C., but the company’s focus has now expanded to include Asia, Australia, Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean and Mexico,” commented Brian Abraham, the Canada co-chair and a global lead for Dentons’ mining group.

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