A statement from the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia | February 17, 2016
The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC) has undertaken a preliminary review of the Nenqay Deni Accord as announced between the B.C. government and the Tsilhqot’in Nation on February 12, 2016.
“While AME BC supports the important and complex work of reconciling, respecting and balancing interests between the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the government of British Columbia, as well as with all the other First Nations in B.C., our initial assessment of the Nenqay Deni Accord raises significant concerns for the mineral exploration industry, especially in regard to mineral tenures on public land,” says Gavin C. Dirom, president and CEO of AME BC. “Security of tenure is critical to our industry, and uncertainty in this regard acts as a deterrent to investment and comes at a time when B.C.’s mineral resource industry is facing serious economic challenges.”
The Nenqay Deni Accord affects a very large area of central B.C. (see accord and map), within which the Tsilhqot’in bands will be provided ownership, management and control of substantial lands. These specific lands have yet to be identified within this larger area, but they will be in addition to the lands that are included in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2014 title declaration. Furthermore, the agreement provides a timeframe of up to five years for the Tsilhqot’in bands and the B.C. government to determine precisely which lands will be subject to Tsilhqot’in management and control. Notably, the accord states that land selection will not be limited to historic use or strength of claim.
“AME BC was not consulted during the development of this agreement,” says Dirom. “So we will be taking some time to carefully review the accord in order to better understand what it may mean for the B.C. mineral exploration and development industry, especially in terms of the rights of existing and future mineral tenure holders and investors in the province of British Columbia’s sub-surface mineral resources.”
In principle, AME BC believes that acknowledging and working within the relevant law and respecting First Nations’ as well as third-party interests are preconditions to achieving success through mutual understanding, trust and respect.
Mineral exploration and development provide real and significant socio-economic opportunities and benefits to First Nations, local communities, B.C. and Canada. The mineral development potential of the lands outlined under the accord could well be an important aspect in assisting the Tsilhqot’in and B.C. government attain their socio-economic and reconciliation goals.
“AME BC fully supports reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal groups but believes this must be achieved in a manner that respects all interests and which enhances investor confidence in B.C.,” concludes Dirom.
AME BC is the lead association for the mineral exploration and development industry based in British Columbia. Established in 1912, AME BC represents, advocates, protects and promotes the interests of thousands of members who are engaged in mineral exploration and development in B.C. and throughout the world. AME BC encourages a safe, economically strong and environmentally responsible industry by providing clear initiatives, policies, events and tools to support its membership.