John Chapman wants you to know that B.C.’s mining industry is at a crossroads. According to Chapman, the four mine projects killed in B.C. since 1993 have taken large revenues out of provincial coffers as well as limiting the well paid job opportunities that mining has traditionally offered to B.C.
Chapman was a guest of the Burns Lake Chamber of Commerce last Thursday. His two and a half hour presentation to about 10 people covered everything from labour laws, First Nation conflicts, environmental organizations and the methods and techniques of modern mining.
Chapman has a lifetime of mining experience in both management and on the ground, and is a registered member of the Professional Engineers and Geoscientist of B.C. He is involved with a partner in a numbered of registered mining claims in Northern B.C., many of them centred on the Burns Lake area.
“Without mining we’d be in the stone age,” said Chapman. “People have mining out of their minds, but everything modern that we have is the result of mining.” The metals in computers, cell phones, building products, forestry equipment, and the cars, trucks and bikes that we drive all depend on mining.
Modern life is defined by mining products, says Chapman, and Burns Lake is in an area of world class mineral deposits. But B.C. faces a problem.
“You can have the best resource in the world, but if you have too many things going against you, companies won’t invest here,” Chapman said.
What B.C. has going against it, according to Chapman, are excessive federal and provincial regulations, civil servants who over step their mandates according to satisfy their own political agendas, First Nations dwelling on historical grievances, and a well organized and well-funded ‘mafia’ of environmental activists.
His frustration with the recent denial of the Pacific Booker Morrison mine project near Granisle was palpable. For Chapman, mining has been a backbone of prosperity and wealth in the province, right along with forestry.
His concern is that emotion will trump reason in the development of B.C.’s natural resources. “Active mining in B.C. only takes up .05 per cent of the province’s land base,” he said. “That’s only 50,000 hectares of land producing $9.9 billion in revenue.” Chapman supports a politically unpopular approach to risk/benefit analysis that sees a certain amount of environmental harm as inevitable, even if controllable.
Chapman continues to prospect in Northern B.C., and to write letters to members of parliament and representatives of governmental environment review agencies to push for responsible mineral extraction.