Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie (left) shakes hands with Aboriginal Relations Minister Ida Chong at signing ceremony at the B.C. legislature Thursday.

Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie (left) shakes hands with Aboriginal Relations Minister Ida Chong at signing ceremony at the B.C. legislature Thursday.

Mine revenue-sharing agreements to benefit two Cariboo First Nations

Two revenue-sharing agreements mean two Cariboo First Nations will benefit from the expansion of the Mt. Polley mine east of Williams Lake.

Two new revenue-sharing agreements mean the Williams Lake Indian Band and Xatśūll First Nation (Soda Creek) will benefit from the expansion of the Mt. Polley mine east of Williams Lake.

The agreements means the two First Nations will share 35 per cent of the incremental mineral tax revenue collected each year by the province.Soda Creek will receive 16.5 percent and WLIB will receive 18.5 per cent of that 35 per cent.

“It is the first ECTA we’ve signed in our area,” Louie said from Victoria, where she and band councillor Rick Gilbert travelled for the official signing ceremony.”The agreement will enhance our economic development.”

While Louie does not know at this point how much money the band will receive, she said there are no stipulations by government on how the money is used. She couldn’t disclose specific plans at either, however confirmed some of the money will go toward supporting youth in education programs.

The agreement will endure through the proposed life of the mine, which is scheduled to operate until 2024.If there are any new mineral finds then it will extend accordingly, Louie explained.

She also confirmed that if the Spanish Mountain Gold’s mining project, northeast of Williams Lake is realized, the band will pursue an ECDA for that project as well. “We have a participation agreement with Spanish Gold,” she said.

The newly signed ECTA falls within days of of the WLIB signing a Participation and Co-operation Agreement with Gibraltar Mines Ltd. northeast of Williams Lake. It also follows 14 months after WLIB signed a Participation Agreement with Imperial Metals, the owner of Mount Polley.

“It’s good for our community and puts us on the forefront,” Louie said, adding it’s exciting for the band. “We haven’t benefited really from anything the federal government has ever done so we have to step up, start doing these projects and signing these agreements that benefit our community.”

The treaty process is so slow, she added.

In an issued statement, Xatśūll First Nation Chief Bev Sellars said:  “We welcome this long-awaited acknowledgment of the environmental and economic interests that Xatśūll holds in our Stewardship Area.”

Aboriginal relations and reconciliation minister Ida Chong said ECTAs underscore the government’s commitment to helping First Nations meaningfully participate in, and benefit from, resource activity within their traditional territory.

“It will help the WLIB build a better future for their own communities, while also supporting a mine expansion that will provide huge benefits to Williams Lake and the surrounding area,” Chong noted in a government press release.