Province Announces Break for Mining Companies
Prince George, B.C.- With commodity prices in the tank, mines throughout B.C. are feeling the impact. Many have curtailed, or ceased, operations. Minister of Mines, Bill Bennett has just announced measures to help mining companies weather the economic storm.
Mining companies will be allowed to temporarily defer a portion of their hydro bills.
“Rural communities across B.C. depend on the high-paying jobs that their mines provide residents,” said Bennett. “We are in the midst of a challenging time for the sector and this will provide some temporary support to help the mines stay open as long as possible, hopefully until commodity prices bounce back.”
The program will be in place for 5 years, the amount any mine will be allowed to defer is capped at the equivalent of up to 75% of its electricity costs over two years of the program.
As commodity prices recover, the mines will repay the amounts deferred, plus interest.
“There are currently eight metal mines and five coal mines operating in the province, employing approximately 7,500 workers.
While this program can’t guarantee mines won’t eventually go into temporary care and maintenance, it is hoped it will help mines stay open for as long as possible.
Mines will be encouraged to borrow funds from other sources, if they can, before deferring a portion of their power bills. Companies with relatively lower levels of debt will pay an interest rate of 12%.
Others will be charged the interest rate that BC Hydro currently charges to accounts over 30 days – prime plus 5%, or about 8% annually.
Each company that chooses to participate in the program will be required to enter into a formal agreement with BC Hydro.