BiV – CEO paints green picture of mining industry’s future. Profile: Bryan Cox, CEO, Mining Association of BC.

By Patrick Blennerhassett 

Bryan Cox seems to have a knack for arriving on the job just in time for a crisis. On his first day at work in public affairs with Molson Brewery in Edmonton, he was dealing with the fallout of the company’s decision, following a strike, to shut down its landmark brewery in that city, which had been in operation for nearly a century.

…And in 2014, just three months into a new position as vice-president of public affairs for the Mining Association of BC (MABC), the industry in B.C. suffered collateral damage from the Mount Polley mine disaster.

In both cases, out of crisis came solutions – solutions that required working collaboratively, often with competing interests. …That ability to work with competing interests came in handy when, in August 2014, the Mount Polley copper mine’s tailings pond suddenly collapsed, pouring 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of slurry into Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek.

The incident gave the entire mining industry in B.C. a black eye. Cox set about helping to heal that bruise, working with government as it enhanced the management and oversight of tailings ponds, and aiding in the effort to rebuild public trust in the industry. The disaster was “hugely destabilizing, obviously,” Cox said. “But we really, I think, seized the opportunity to pull the membership together and drive to solutions, and I think that’s what really changed the dialogue. The success stories coming out of Mount Polley on the regulatory side are ones that haven’t been fully told yet.” Another story that Cox believes has not been given full expression is the importance of mining in the global move to a decarbonized economy and as a driver of clean technology.

… “Let’s talk about the fact that it’s going to take four times more copper to build an electric car than it does a combustion engine. Let’s talk about how it’s going to take 100 tonnes of steelmaking coal to build one wind turbine. So as we make this transition, mining’s absolutely essential, and especially in British Columbia. Those are our two main commodities.”

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