Roads and mining pits scar an otherwise stunning mountain landscape

Colin Arisman

Bad Prospects

The Mining Exploration Financial Model that Rewards a Few While Creating Excessive Risks in the Shared Watersheds of British Columbia and Alaska

A vital ecological and cultural area stretching from Northwest British Columbia (B.C.) into Southeast Alaska is facing escalating pressure from mining exploration propelled by a complex version of the Prospect Generator Model (PGM). Our investigation found a web-like network of more than 450 Canadian companies, linked through the PGM, that are focused on claims staking and mining exploration across the transboundary watershed.

These companies rely on a continuous stream of funds from smaller investors to pay handsome executive salaries, build infrastructure along fragile ecosystems like retreating glaciers and wild salmon habitat, and establish joint ventures and option agreements with other companies. While only one in 10,000 claims becomes a mine, average investors, Canadian taxpayers, Indigenous peoples, rural residents, and U.S. communities and economies downstream are left shouldering the financial and environmental risks of gold mine exploration. Meanwhile, a small cohort of distant mine owners and major investors get rich while carrying almost no risk.

In light of these challenges, it is imperative to revise or terminate British Columbia and Canadian policies that foster PGM-driven exploration and to enforce regulatory changes that prioritize Indigenous rights and environmental protection.