Vancouver, B.C. — February 17, 2016 —The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME) has undertaken a preliminary review of the Nenqay Deni Accord as announced between the B.C. government and the Tsilhqot’in Nation on February 12, 2016.
“While AME supports the important and complex work of reconciling, respecting and balancing interests between the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the Government of British Columbia, as well as with all the other First Nations in B.C., our initial assessment of the Nenqay Deni Accord raises significant concerns for the mineral exploration industry, especially in regard to mineral tenures on public land,” says Gavin C. Dirom, President & CEO of AME. “Security of tenure is critical to our industry, and uncertainty in this regard acts as a deterrent to investment and comes at a time when B.C.’s mineral resource industry is facing serious economic challenges.”
The Nenqay Deni Accord affects a very large area of central B.C. (see Accord and map http://bit.ly/1XtAOP1), within which the Tsilhqot’in bands will be provided ownership, management and control of substantial lands. These specific lands have yet to be identified within this larger area, but they will be in addition to the lands that are included in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2014 title declaration. Furthermore, the agreement provides a timeframe of up to five years for the Tsilhqot’in bands and the B.C. government to determine precisely which lands will be subject to Tsilhqot’in management and control. Notably, the Accord states that land selection will not be limited to historic use or strength of claim.
“AME was not consulted during the development of this agreement,” says Dirom. “So we will be taking some time to carefully review the Accord in order to better understand what it may mean for the B.C. mineral exploration and development industry, especially in terms of the rights of existing and future mineral tenure holders and investors in the Province of British Columbia’s sub-surface mineral resources.”
In principle, AME believes that acknowledging and working within the relevant law and respecting First Nations’ as well as third-party interests are preconditions to achieving success through mutual understanding, trust and respect.
Mineral exploration and development provide real and significant socio-economic opportunities and benefits to First Nations, local communities, B.C. and Canada. The mineral development potential of the lands outlined under the Accord could well be an important aspect in assisting the Tsilhqot’in and B.C. government attain their socio-economic and reconciliation goals.
“AME fully supports reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal groups but believes this must be achieved in a manner that respects all interests and which enhances investor confidence in B.C.,” concludes Dirom.