VANCOUVER, March 25 /CNW/ - There will be no lasting security for British Columbia's mining industry without a fundamentally new approach to reaching agreements with First Nations that address both the impacts and benefits of individual mining projects, an organization working on aboriginal mining and energy issues said today.
"We are here today to tell the industry and government that there is a constructive way forward that will bring lasting benefits to First Nations and the mining industry," said Dave Porter, chief executive officer of the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council. "That new approach involves embracing a step-by-step process to negotiate impact-and-benefit agreements with First Nations before proposed projects proceed."
The BCFNEMC says a groundbreaking report just released by the Walter Duncan and Gordon Foundation and written by two leading experts on mining and aboriginal relations, is a valuable toolkit that can be used by First Nations to negotiate on more favorable terms with the mining industry.
The 204-page report is a unique, step-by-step guide that shows First Nations how to negotiate impact-and-benefit agreements with mining companies.
"This document was developed after extensive consultation with First Nations," said the report's co-author, Ginger Gibson, an adjunct professor of mining engineering at the University of British Columbia. "It is written for community negotiators, members of community negotiating teams, and consultants working with First Nation organizations. While it focuses on the mining sector, it could also apply to other resource industries such as the energy and forest sectors."
"We are pleased with the thought that went into this document. It provides a strong foundation for First Nations moving forward in their negotiations with mining and other resource industries," said Grand Chief Ed John, of the BC First Nations Summit.
"The mining and mine exploration sectors continue to struggle with social licence and sustainability issues," added Larry Innes, executive director of the Canadian Boreal Initiative. "Impact-benefits agreements can provide tools for comprehensively addressing both concerns. We believe that such agreements are an important foundation for a sustainable mining industry."
The detailed guide complements a recent report prepared for the BCFNEMC called Sharing the Wealth: First Nation Resource Participation Models. The report notes that there are considerable risks when resource industries fail first to reach resource and revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations.
"Simply put, projects which have not reached agreements with First Nations are a greater investor risk."
Sharing the Wealth assesses the strengths and weaknesses of approaches to sharing a portion of the proceeds from resource industry activities on First Nation lands including: royalties, equity positions, profit sharing and fixed payments.
SOURCE BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council
For further information: For further information: Paul Blom, BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council - (778) 887-0855; Colin Braker, First Nations Summit - (604) 926-9903; Ginger Gibson, adjunct professor, University of British Columbia Mining Engineering - (780) 977-3921; Larry Innes, Canadian Boreal Initiative - (613) 232-2559