Support for legislation tabled in the B.C. legislature Oct. 24 to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is coming from sources that might not immediately be obvious.
In a press release issued Oct. 25, the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) came out in favour of the Province’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).
“AME supports the goal of the legislation to advance reconciliation with First Nations and the objective to reduce uncertainty for users of the land base,” the release stated.
AME has long been concerned about British Columbia’s reputation among the international investment community as being a difficult jurisdiction in which to get resource projects off the ground. The organization hopes the new legislation will allow the province to develop policies and regulations that “lead to a clear, transparent and timely project review process to attract the capital needed to develop our natural resources for the benefit of all British Columbians.”’
AME believes, however, the Act will have minimal impact on industry practices.
“Mineral exploration and development companies operating in B.C. have been leaders, working with federal and provincial governments in engagement and consultation with First Nations,” said Rob McLeod, AME board chair. “Our inclusiveness in decision-making through exploration and permitting has already benefited both proponents and Indigenous people. We are optimistic that this legislation will further strengthen our industry’s practices with greater benefit to all stakeholders.”
Also cautiously optimistic is the Mining Association of B.C. (MABC).
“With proper implementation, the adoption of UNDRIP principles through this new legislation will support reconciliation and we hope enable greater certainty on the land base,” said Michael Goerhing, MABC CEO.
“The status quo is not engendering confidence in B.C.’s economic future, nor is it serving British Columbians or B.C.’s Indigenous communities.”
Goerhing said, however, the mining sector itself is already advancing economic reconciliation with First Nations through partnerships, impact benefits agreements (IBA) and vendor relationships that reflect UNDRIP principles.
He pointed to the Brucejack and Red Chris mines in Northwest B.C. near Stewart, as examples of that. He said 30 per cent of the Brucejack and Red Chris workforce is First Nations and the two companies, Pretivm and Imperial Metals respectively, have IBAs with both the Tahltan and the Nisga’a.
“Those mines up there work closely with the Tahltan, there’s shared decision-making; it’s a great example of what UNDRIP can look like on the ground,” Goerhring said.