Visualizing the Economic Impact of British Columbia's Golden Triangle
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Visualizing the Economic Impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle

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The following content is sponsored by British Columbia Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA).

British Columbia's Golden Triangle

The Economic Impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle

At the heart of British Columbia’s mining industry lies the Golden Triangle. This region has helped transform the province’s mining industry into a significant source of revenue and investment.

In 2020, the Golden Triangle accounted for roughly 44% of the $422 million in mineral exploration expenditures in British Columbia. In 2019, the Red Chris and Brucejack mines contributed around $1 billion to the province’s estimated annual gross mining revenues.

This infographic is sponsored by the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA) which brings the best of this region to the world through a partnership between indigenous groups, industry, and provincial government representatives.

Here is how the Golden Triangle began.

The Golden Triangle’s Unique Geology

Between 220 and 175 million years ago, the Golden Triangle’s wealth was forming deep in the Earth for the world to discover. Most metal deposits form from superheated water that cycle over many kilometers, collecting metal atoms as they rise to the surface of the Earth’s crust and settle into deposits.

Industry, government, and university geologists have worked for over a century to understand the Golden Triangle’s unique geology to uncover its mineral wealth. This unique geology cradles the world-class deposits that define the legendary “Golden Triangle” of British Columbia.

A History of Discovery and Mining in the Golden Triangle

Historical gold rushes brought mining to the area, but the region’s vast copper deposits will deliver the key mineral for B.C.’s green future. More than 150 mines have operated in the area since prospectors first arrived at the end of the 19th century.

  • 1861: Alexander Choquette kicked off the Stikine Gold Rush after finding gold at the confluence of the Stikine and Anuk Rivers.
  • 1918 – 1952: The first big discovery in the Golden Triangle was at the Premier Gold Mine, which started operations in 1918. It produced 2 million ounces of gold and 45 million ounces of silver. Today, Ascot Resources is re-starting processing from this gold mine.
  • 1964: The Snip Mine was discovered by Cominco but the deposit stayed dormant until 1986. The mine produced approximately 1 million ounces of gold from 1991 until 1999. Today, Skeena Resources is advancing the Snip Project.
  • 1994: Eskay became Canada’s highest-grade gold mine and the world’s fifth largest silver producer, with production above 3 million ounces of gold and 160 million ounces of silver. Skeena Resources is also bringing the Eskay mining back into production.
  • 2009: The discovery of the Brucejack gold and silver deposit led to the development of an underground mine. The mine has produced 1,230,644 ounces of gold since it began operations in 2017.
  • 2013: The KSM Project is one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world. A Preliminary Feasibility Study estimates proven and probable reserves total 38.8 million ounces of gold and 10.2 billion pounds of copper.
  • 2015: The Red Chris shipped its first load of copper concentrate. In 2020 metals production was 88.3 million pounds copper and 73,787 ounces gold. Imperial Metals and Newcrest jointly operate the mine.

This long tradition of discovery and mining is laying the foundations for the next generation of investment.

Today’s Golden Age for Exploration and Development

Continued exploration is necessary for new discoveries and advancing projects to new mines. More importantly, the minerals discovered today will be needed in the low carbon economy and British Columbia—in particular, the Golden Triangle will play its part in delivering metals for renewable technology.

 British ColumbiaNorthwest Mining RegionThe Golden Triangle
2020 Projects2596726
Total Expenditures$422M$255M$184M
Drilling (meters)991,319470,058352,247
Average Expenditure Per Project$1.6M$3.4M$7.09M

Source: Based on data collected for the EY LLP, 2020 British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey

Gold and copper account for most of the exploration in the Golden Triangle, but other commodities for the low-carbon economy such as silver, nickel, and zinc also attract interest. A strong exploration industry is the beginning for future investment, new jobs, and community development.

A Bright Future: Investing in Community

The Golden Triangle continues to attract exploration activity as infrastructure and community development lays the success for future generations and industries.

Community:

  • Agreements with First Nations (Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations)
  • 38% of expenditures stays in the region
  • 97% stays in British Columbia
  • 150+ communities benefit

Infrastructure:

  • The paving of the Stewart-Cassiar highway
  • The opening of ocean port facilities for concentrate export at Stewart
  • The completion of a $700-million high-voltage transmission line bringing power into the region

This is a new beginning for the continued economic impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle.

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Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Roughly 25% of all GHG emissions come from electricity production. See how the top 30 IOUs rank by emissions per capita.

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Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Approximately 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from electricity generation.

Subsequently, this means investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have a crucial role to play around carbon reduction initiatives. This is particularly true for the top 30 IOUs, where almost 75% of utility customers get their electricity from.

This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council ranks the largest IOUs by emissions per capita. By accounting for the varying customer bases they serve, we get a more accurate look at their green energy practices. Here’s how they line up.

Per Capita Rankings

The emissions per capita rankings for the top 30 investor-owned utilities have large disparities from one another.

Totals range from a high of 25.8 tons of CO2 per customer annually to a low of 0.5 tons.

UtilityEmissions Per Capita (CO2 tons per year)Total Emissions (M)
TransAlta25.816.3
Vistra22.497.0
OGE Energy21.518.2
AES Corporation19.849.9
Southern Company18.077.8
Evergy14.623.6
Alliant Energy14.414.1
DTE Energy14.229.0
Berkshire Hathaway Energy14.057.2
Entergy13.840.5
WEC Energy13.522.2
Ameren12.831.6
Duke Energy12.096.6
Xcel Energy11.943.3
Dominion Energy11.037.8
Emera11.016.6
PNM Resources10.55.6
PPL Corporation10.428.7
American Electric Power9.250.9
Consumers Energy8.716.1
NRG Energy8.229.8
Florida Power and Light8.041.0
Portland General Electric7.66.9
Fortis Inc.6.112.6
Avangrid5.111.6
PSEG3.99.0
Exelon3.834.0
Consolidated Edison1.66.3
Pacific Gas and Electric0.52.6
Next Era Energy Resources01.1

PNM Resources data is from 2019, all other data is as of 2020

Let’s start by looking at the higher scoring IOUs.

TransAlta

TransAlta emits 25.8 tons of CO2 emissions per customer, the largest of any utility on a per capita basis. Altogether, the company’s 630,000 customers emit 16.3 million metric tons. On a recent earnings call, its management discussed clear intent to phase out coal and grow their renewables mix by doubling their renewables fleet. And so far it appears they’ve been making good on their promise, having shut down the Canadian Highvale coal mine recently.

Vistra

Vistra had the highest total emissions at 97 million tons of CO2 per year and is almost exclusively a coal and gas generator. However, the company announced plans for 60% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and is striving to be carbon neutral by 2050. As the highest total emitter, this transition would make a noticeable impact on total utility emissions if successful.

Currently, based on their 4.3 million customers, Vistra sees per capita emissions of 22.4 tons a year. The utility is a key electricity provider for Texas, ad here’s how their electricity mix compares to that of the state as a whole:

Energy SourceVistraState of Texas
Gas63%52%
Coal29%15%
Nuclear6%9%
Renewables1%24%
Oil1%0%

Despite their ambitious green energy pledges, for now only 1% of Vistra’s electricity comes from renewables compared to 24% for Texas, where wind energy is prospering.

Based on those scores, the average customer from some of the highest emitting utility groups emit about the same as a customer from each of the bottom seven, who clearly have greener energy practices. Let’s take a closer look at emissions for some of the bottom scoring entities.

Utilities With The Greenest Energy Practices

Groups with the lowest carbon emission scores are in many ways leaders on the path towards a greener future.

Exelon

Exelon emits only 3.8 tons of CO2 emissions per capita annually and is one of the top clean power generators across the Americas. In the last decade they’ve reduced their GHG emissions by 18 million metric tons, and have recently teamed up with the state of Illinois through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Through this, Exelon will receive $700 million in subsidies as it phases out coal and gas plants to meet 2030 and 2045 targets.

Consolidated Edison

Consolidated Edison serves nearly 4 million customers with a large chunk coming from New York state. Altogether, they emit 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions per capita from their electricity generation.

The utility group is making notable strides towards a sustainable future by expanding its renewable projects and testing higher capacity limits. In addition, they are often praised for their financial management and carry the title of dividend aristocrat, having increased their dividend for 47 years and counting. In fact, this is the longest out of any utility company in the S&P 500.

A Sustainable Tomorrow

Altogether, utilities will have a pivotal role to play in decarbonization efforts. This is particularly true for the top 30 U.S. IOUs, who serve millions of Americans.

Ultimately, this means a unique moment for utilities is emerging. As the transition toward cleaner energy continues and various groups push to achieve their goals, all eyes will be on utilities to deliver.

The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource to learn how utilities can lead in the path towards decarbonization.

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The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills.

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Road to Decarbonization - How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, has various applications in the modern economy, with annual demand reaching 110 million tons globally.

Until the 20th century, natural asphalt made from decomposed plants accounted for the majority of asphalt production. Today, most asphalt is refined from crude oil.

This graphic, sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies, shows how new technologies to reuse and recycle asphalt can help protect the environment.

The Impact of Climate Change

Pollution from vehicles is expected to decline as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines.

But pollution from asphalt could actually increase in the next decades because of rising temperatures in some parts of the Earth. When subjected to extreme temperatures, asphalt releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.

Emissions from Road Construction (Source) CO2 equivalent (%)
Asphalt 28%
Concrete18%
Excavators and Haulers16%
Trucks13%
Crushing Plant 10%
Galvanized Steel 6%
Reinforced Steel6%
Plastic Piping 2%
Geotextile1%

Asphalt paved surfaces and roofs make up approximately 45% and 20% of surfaces in U.S. cities, respectively. Furthermore, 75% of single-family detached homes in Canada and the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roofs.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Asphalt

Similar to roads, asphalt shingles have oil as the primary component, which is especially harmful to the environment.

Shingles do not decompose or biodegrade. The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills, the equivalent of 20 million barrels of oil.

But most of it can be reused, rather than taking up valuable landfill space.

Using technology, the primary components in shingles can be repurposed into liquid asphalt, aggregate, and fiber, for use in road construction, embankments, and new shingles.

Providing the construction industry with clean, sustainable processing solutions is also a big business opportunity. Canada alone is a $1.3 billion market for recovering and reprocessing shingles.

Northstar Clean Technologies is the only public company that repurposes 99% of asphalt shingles components that otherwise go to landfills.

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