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Mining History of AME and GOLD

The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) has completed more than a century in British Columbia. This organization is the lead association for the mineral exploration and development industry based in British Columbia. Established in 1912, AME encourages an economically strong and environmentally responsible environment and promotes the interests of thousands of members who are engaged in mineral exploration and development not only in British Columbia, but also throughout the world. Let’s take a quick look at how British Columbia’s mining industry has evolved over a century and its significance to the economy.

In 1912, there were 86 mines in British Columbia and 3,837 people were employed in this industry. The annual production value per mine was $8.97 million. After a century, British Columbia has reduced its number of mines to 21, but it has 32,000 people employed in those mines and the annual production value per mine in 2011 was $416.52 million! AME spent a record $463 million in mineral exploration in British Columbia in 2011. It is for this reason that British Columbia has over $600 billion in gross mineral reserves. 35 countries worldwide have adopted British Columbia’s health, safety and reclamation code and their subscribers have grown from 63 to 4,875 from 1912 to 2011. To put it simply, mining and exploration in British Columbia has grown into a multi-billion-dollar business over the last 100 years.

AME’s value of production back in 1912 was estimated at $771.4 million. After 100 years, its value of production was a whopping $8.747 billion in 2011. For instance, the value of Coal production in 1912 was $257 million which rose to a staggering $4.71 billion in 2011. And the latter figure belongs to Metallurgical coal alone. There was a separate value of Thermal coal produced in 2011 that was estimated at $476 million. What’s more? The quantity of Metallurgical coal produced in 2011 was enough to produce the amount of steel required to construct downtown Vancouver’s Shangri-La ten times over!

In 1912, the value of production of Gold by AME was $140 million which rose steadily to $154 million in 2011. Have you often wondered how gold became the most sought-after metal on planet earth? Let’s take a look!

Not many know that like all natural elements heavier than iron, Gold was not born on earth. Instead, supernova explosions or a collision of neutron stars are thought to be the origin of the yellow metal.

Gold was one of the first metals discovered by ancient people because it could be found in pure native form such as nuggets or flakes. The best part about this shiny yellow metal is that it does not tarnish or corrode. Several early civilizations such as Egyptians, Greeks and Mesopotamians used Gold to make jewellery. As time passed, Gold became synonymous with wealth and power.

What’s more? Gold also revolutionized trading. The ancient trading system of barter was grossly incompetent and terribly inefficient. When it came to precious metals, the barter system faced four major problems. The first being ‘coincidence of wants’ which means each trader must want what the other has. The second being ‘invisibility of goods’. This means that some goods are difficult or impossible to divide into smaller portions for trade. The third being ‘no common measure of value’ which means ‘values of goods cannot be measured easily against each other. And finally, the last one being ‘no store of value’. This means that many goods are perishable and cannot hold value over the long-term. Money was used to solve the problems of barter from as back as 564 B.C. The Lydians were the first people to mint coins. These coins were made of electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver.

Around this time, the Chinese started using a square gold coin called the Ying Yuan for trade. The Greek city-states minted their own distinct coins and forced foreigners to change money into local currency at an exchange rate favourable to the store. Not many are aware that the Romans were the first to use Gold and Silver in a widespread monetary system. During Roman times, the ratio of Silver to Gold was 12:1. Through the advancement of hydraulic mining, the Romans were able to extract Gold on a large scale. However, their empire’s expenditure was so high that the gold extracted didn’t suffice. They needed to debase their currency by adding base metals to Gold and Silver to make it easier for them to pay their debts. This debasement of Roman currency is one of the reasons cited by historians as the cause for the downfall of the Roman empire.

It is no coincidence why so many civilizations chose to use Gold as money. Gold’s properties made it the perfect choice. One of the most important properties of this yellow metal is that it is rare. The world Gold supply increases by a mere 1% to 2% per year. What’s more? Gold is malleable and soft. This allows it to be easily pressed into coins. Gold also has intrinsic value. This means that the yellow metal has been universally valued since the beginning of civilization. Gold is immortal. That is to say, it doesn’t react with air, moisture or most corrosive agents. Gold is easy to identify. Because of its density and unique colour, it is unmistakable. And finally, and most importantly, Gold meets all the properties of money. It is a great medium of exchange, store of value and unit of account.

Gold is so rare that the world produces nearly as much steel in one hour as the total amount of Gold mined throughout history. While 161,415 tonnes of steel are mined per hour, 174,100 tonnes of Gold have been mined to date! That’s how precious and rare this beautiful metal is!