VANCOUVER, Jan. 14, 2013 /CNW/ - The BC government and mining industry have been given a blaring wake-up call in the form of a precedent-setting court ruling against the existing free-entry claims process, says the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council.
The government and industry now has the choice of spending huge sums and possibly several years trying to fight this decision before the Supreme Court of Canada, where First Nations have a winning record, or sit down now with First Nations to finally come up with a better way of doing business, says the FNEMC.
The ruling has huge national ramifications and is most immediately and directly applicable to the BC system - on which the Yukon system is based. Delivered Dec. 27 by three justices from the BC Court of Appeal sitting in Whitehorse, the court decision granted an appeal by the Ross River Dena Council (RRDC) and found that allowing claims staking without first consulting First Nations is a break of the Crown's duty to consult.
"This decision will eventually result in significant reforms to the mining industry across British Columbia," said FNEMC Board Director Chief Roland Willson. "For the first time in a mining case the Courts have said the duty to consult and accommodate must take place prior to the granting of an exploration interest, including the commencement of activities."
FNEMC CEO, Dave Porter said: "For decades, the claims process has been at the root of mining confrontation in BC and with this ruling it is in no one's interest to delay reform any longer with further costly and lengthy court battles that in all likelihood will only delay the inevitable while continuing to deter investors from BC.
"It is imperative that the BC government engage now with First Nations to develop an alternative process to free entry, and we extend an invitation to industry to work with our Council to develop options for consideration by the Chiefs," said Mr. Porter.
The FNEMC notes that the Yukon ruling comes at a time when investors are raising concerns about the huge sums being lost on failed mining proposals that are opposed by First Nations, international mining executives are raising concerns about the failure to address First Nations issues, major mining companies are curtailing growth plans, and junior mining companies are finding it extremely difficult to raise capital.
"The time to act is clearly now," said Mr. Porter.
SOURCE: BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council
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Media Inquiries Contact:
Dave Porter, CEO via Joanna Prince at 604 924 3844.