BC, Tahltan First Nation partner at Eskay Creek Gold Mine

When the Eskay Creek gold mine was first licensed in the 1990s, consent from the local First Nations – the Tahltan – was not required.

If the restart of the mine is approved, it will be subject to a new consent agreement with the Tahltan First Nation as part of the BC Environmental Assessment Act review process.

The Tahltan and British Columbia governments today announced what Premier John Horgan called a “truly extraordinary” agreement – the first consent agreement under the Indigenous Peoples Declaration of Rights Act. (DRIPA).

The Consent Agreement is activated under Section 7 of the Environmental Assessment Act, which provides for joint decision-making between the provincial government and the Tahltan.

Premier John Horgan said the deal is the first of many to come and should be a signal to industry of greater certainty when it comes to mining on unceded First Nations territory. He said it is “a true partnership between the Tahltan and the government of British Columbia.[…]in shared decision making.

“British Columbia is open for business in a sustainable way, in a collaborative way that begins and begins with the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to have a say in determining what happens in their territory,” Horgan said. “The Eskay Creek project will be the first of its kind to go through an environmental assessment and Section 7 agreement, reducing uncertainty, letting the investment community know who they are dealing with.

“When investors look to British Columbia, they will look to a territory, a jurisdiction that has shared decision-making at its core.”

“I take my hat off to the NDP, the Prime Minister and his colleagues for making history with the DRIPA legislation,” said Tahltan Central Government Speaker Chad Norman Day.

“I am deeply honored that we are the first Indigenous group in British Columbia to sign an agreement like this.

“It is extremely important that, moving forward, Tahltan rights, Tahltan decisions, Tahltan values ​​are at the heart of all these projects.”

Skeena Resources (TSX:SKE) plans to restart the Eskay Creek gold mine, which operated from 1994 to 2008. As part of the environmental review process, the Tahltans will play a greater regulatory role in the mining process. environmental assessment.

Justin Himmelright, vice president of external affairs for Skeena Resources, said the mine site has road and electrical access and tailings management.

“The project has all these great assets that were a legacy of the previous project,” he said. “The part that was missing from the Eskay Creek project is that because it was permitted at a time when native consent was not the norm at the time, it never got formal consent from the Tahltan nation.

“So this is a very, very important step for the project.”

The traditional Tahltan territory in northwestern British Columbia covers approximately 11% of British Columbia’s total landmass and is rich in minerals. The Tahltan generally support mining in the area and have many agreements with mining and exploration companies.

More generally, the province plans to work towards more joint decision-making with First Nations on land stewardship. To this end, the Horgan government created a new department — Land, Water and Resource Stewardship.

New minister Josie Osborne said the Tahltan consent agreement is just one example of greater co-management and joint decision-making the government is working towards.

“This way forward or roadmap will not be the same for all First Nations,” she said. “But no matter where we live in British Columbia, expanding and strengthening partnerships and making shared decisions about the land base will create greater predictability and create new opportunities for everyone – First Nations, industry and community.

The consent agreement with the Tahltan is endorsed by the Mining Association of BC (MABC), which sees it as a way to achieve greater certainty on resource decisions.

“The agreement between Tahltan’s central government and the provincial government is an important step forward in advancing reconciliation and supporting the development of Skeena Resource’s Eskay Creek Revitalization Project,” said MABC CEO Michael Goehring.

“Timely and predictable environmental assessment and permitting processes that support responsible mining are critical to attracting investment and moving development projects through to mining operations.

[email protected]


Lynn A. Saleh