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Demand for metallurgical coal drives B.C. mining

May 30, 2018

B.C.’s mining industry is growing strong, largely due to increased demand and commodity prices for metallurgical coal, according to PwC Canada’s latest mining report.

Metallurgical coal, or steelmaking coal, saw the largest year-over-year price surge in 2017, increasing 50 per cent compared to 2016, the report finds. Copper also showed strong growth, rising 27 per cent year-over-year in 2017, while the average zinc price increased 38 per cent.

Metallurgical coal is needed to produce the steel for everything from cars to clean-energy infrastructure such as public transit and wind turbines.

“Rising demand for these and other commodities from countries such as China is helping drive prices higher, as is the growing need for metals to help with infrastructure development and in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Bryan Cox, president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia, states in the report.

B.C. is Canada’s largest exporter of metallurgical coal. Shipments totalled 28.6 million tonnes in 2017, up from 25.4 million tonnes in 2016 and 24.4 million tonnes in 2015. Metallurgical coal prices averaged US$173/tonne in 2017 compared to US$115/tonne in 2016 and US$101/tonne in 2015.

Metallurgical coal operations in B.C. saw overall revenues increase to $6.3 billion in 2017 from $3.9 billion in 2016.

Optimism in B.C.’s mining sector is growing strong, the PwC survey states. Gross mining revenue from B.C. operations came in at $11.7 billion compared to $8.7 billion in 2016. Net mining revenue, which is after cost deductions for treatment and refining, freight and transportation and sales and marketing, was $10.1 billion compared to $7.3 billion in 2016. Net income before taxes rose to $3.5 billion compared to $1.4 billion in 2016.

Read the full PwC report.

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