Two First Nations in B.C.’s Interior have signed agreements with the provincial government in support of the recently-approved Blackwater Gold Mine project southwest of Vanderhoof.
Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, noted in a press release issued Tuesday a partnership has been reached with the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho Nations.
“It ensures the Nations have a voice in the decision-making process and supports the future development of the mine in a way that reflects the principles of the new Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act,” Mungall stated.
The agreement commits to share a portion of the provincial mineral tax revenue collected from the planned Blackwater Gold Mine project.
First Nations should share in the wealth from natural resource projects in their territory, and agreements like this one create a true partnership for economic development in the territory, said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
“When Indigenous communities are partners in the economy, we can build a stronger B.C. that includes everyone, creating opportunities for Indigenous peoples, B.C. businesses, communities and families everywhere.”
Ulkatcho Chief Lynda Price said the nation agreed with the project only after environmental concerns and conditions were addressed.
“This is another opportunity for Ulkatcho First Nation (UFN) members to participate in the economy. The ECDA will support capacity development and prepare UFN moving forward in a positive direction,” Price stated. “UFN acknowledges this has been a long process, which began in early 2012, and are grateful to have reached this milestone.”
In addition to creating a new source of revenue for the two nations, the agreement commits to collaborative work to develop a process for engagement on future permitting associated with the mine.
“On behalf of my community, we are pleased to support the Economic and Community Development Agreement (ECDA) with B.C. and look forward to the long-term stability it will provide for my current and future generations,” said Chief Liliane Squinas, Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation.
The New Gold Inc. project will be an open-pit gold and silver mine on 4,400 hectares, about 110 kilometres southwest of Vanderhoof.
New Gold expects the mine to operate for 17 years.
The two Nations have also entered into a separate agreement with New Gold Inc. that afford them direct participation in the Blackwater Gold project.
The mine received both federal and provincial environmental assessment certificates in 2019. It is anticipated the project will create 1,500 jobs during construction and 495 during operations.
With files from the B.C. government