Kamloops has the potential to become the hub of mining industry for Western Canada, the president of the Mining Association of Canada said Thursday.
Pierre Gratton said with Highland Valley Copper, New Gold's New Afton mine and the proposed KGHM-Ajax project, "you'll become the hub many want to turn to.
"You can decide to make Kamloops one of the wealthier parts and more dynamic parts of the country."
Gratton acknowledged the Ajax project is particularly sensitive at this point. However, he suggested Kamloops bear in mind what the bigger impact could be.
Clustering of major mines in this area isn't just about jobs; it's about attracting the firms that want to be near mines, and growth that comes from that, he said.
"As that grows, your community becomes stronger and richer," he said.
"You'll become the hub many want to turn to. . . . It's the potential to become a centre for the mining industry in general."
Addressing a crowd of about 400 people at the Kamloops Convention Centre for a mining-week gathering, Gratton pointed out that mining has bounced back far faster and better than other industries battered by the 2008 recession.
In 2010, mining paid $8.4 billion in taxes across Canada. The sector employs 300,000 people in this country and pays salaries that are 30 per cent or more better than in other industries.
"We are the highest-paid sector in the Canadian economy," he said.
Canada is home to about 20 per cent of the world's mineral exploration, while mining provides 21 per cent of this country's exported goods, he said.
The industry represents 10 per cent of Canada's outward investments, and 14 per cent of inward investment.
With what Gratton called "the China factor" creating a projected demand for the next 30 years of eight to 15 per cent growth for metals, mining has a strong future.
"There's a growing middle class in China" that has an appetite for cars, electronics and other consumer goods.
Gratton said the amount of metals and minerals that will be consumed globally in the next 25 years will equal all that has been used from now to the start of history.
And even with major efforts to recycle metals, there will be a need to produce more, he said.
In the next five to 10 years, Canada could see as much as $140 billion in potential investment in mining and the need for 100,000 more mine workers, he said.
B.C.'s portion could be $30 billion, with the largest number of new projects in this province.
"You have the opportunity to shape your future," he said.
"The future is very bright in our sector."