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BC mining companies could see power payments deferred

Martin MacMahon, News 1130, December 30 2015

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Your Hydro bill is expected to jump again in 2016, but mining companies may be set for a better deal.

Plans are in the works to allow struggling companies to put off paying their bills until better financial times.

“Power costs are something that we might be able to work on with them,” Mines Minister Bill Bennett tells NEWS 1130. “There might be a deferral opportunity for power costs for the mining industry starting in 2016 if we can put all the pieces together and it makes sense.”

With mining companies enduring difficult economic times thanks to the struggling commodities sector, the province is looking into allowing mining companies to defer their power payments, similar to measures used in the 80s and 90s, according to Bennett.

“The governments of the day did have programs that assisted mining companies in keeping their operating costs down,” says Bennett. “We are looking at what we might be able to do to assist mining companies in keeping their operating costs down. There’s not very many options that we have, but there are some options. Hopefully in the new year I’ll have something to announce that will assist mining companies in keeping operating costs down so they can remain in business, and most importantly, remain employing the thousands of people that they do.”

Mining is a major revenue generator for government.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the province’s industry employed 9954 people in 2014 and paid $467-million to government and government agencies.

Bennett says this break being considered is a bid to protect those jobs.

It has been a rough recent period for the mining sector, with pre-tax net earnings dipping to $288-million last year from $1.4-billion in 2013.

The threat of job losses is real — mining company Anglo American announced it plans to lay off 85,000 workers earlier this month, and in November, Vancouver-based Teck Resources announced plans to eliminate 1,000 jobs, doubling the number of positions it has deemed redundant in the last 18 months.

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