Vancouver, B.C., Canada – Today, the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation announced interim orders to protect Gitxaala Nation and Ehattesaht Nation’s mineral interests and outlined a process for cooperation and consultation for modernizing the Mineral Tenure Act in BC.

The interim orders place restrictions on mineral claim registrations and mining activities in Gitxaala Nation and Ehattesaht First Nation territories, while the MTA modernization process moves forward toward new legislation planned for the spring of 2025. These interim measures follow an agreement between B.C. and the two Nations on how to approach the September 2023 Gitxaala v. British Columbia BC Supreme Court ruling. 

“The impact of these interim orders is expected to be minimal for our members as there are few active mineral tenures in these regions. For those impacted, we urge the government to deliver fair remedy immediately. These interim orders are a temporary measure and will be repealed when a modernized MTA is in place next year. There is also an opportunity to amend the interim orders if the government and Ehattesaht or Gitxaala reach agreement with companies seeking to explore or mine in their territories,” said Keerit Jutla, President & CEO, Association for Mineral Exploration in BC. “The government has also assured us no further interim orders that restrict mineral claims in other parts of the province are expected. It remains business as usual for our members in the rest of the BC.”

The next steps for MTA modernization focus on a distinctions-based consultation and cooperation process with First Nations as well as an engagement process with industry, ENGO’s, local governments, and interested British Columbians.

“At AME, we want to get to work on modernization and we want industry to play a more significant role. The mineral exploration business is committed to the implementation of DRIPA, a fact we have reinforced with the BC Government,” continued Jutla. “We agree with the Nations and the government that sitting down at a table and engaging is the way forward. We are actively asking for a seat at table with the MTA modernization working group, which currently includes the First Nations Leadership Council, First Nations Energy and Mining Council, and the B.C. government. It is unfortunate that industry is not yet part of this working group, despite our geological expertise and knowledge. It is also very important the Province is aware of, and carefully considers, the broader implication modernization has for our industry and how international capital markets perceive British Columbia as a place to invest.”

The BC Government noted that both cooperation and consultation with First Nations and engagement with industry and interested groups launched in March 2024. AME strongly advocates to government that industry must play a more significant role in this modernization process, which sits at the crux of the mineral exploration business and commences the work of finding the minerals and metals we need as a modern society.  AME has also recently reached out to the First Nations Leadership Council with a request to begin a direct dialogue.

“We will continue to advocate for transparency, certainty, and clarity on the process. The lack of these things has the potential to cause anxiousness and panic, which is destructive to all parties and counter to  sustainable dialogue. In the end, it is imperative that we end up with a modernized MTA that protects the intellectual property, integrity and viability of our members and their ability to explore BC’s mineral potential and unlock shared benefits,” added Jutla.

Inclusion of industry, consultation and reasonable timelines to engage must be at the heart of a modernized mineral tenuring process. It is right to respect Indigenous rights, traditions and interests in land-use decisions. It is reasonable for the industry to seek clarity and certainty as the government moves forward so that B.C. remains a competitive, predictable and stable environment for mineral exploration, capital investment and pathway toward economic reconciliation. A modernized Act should provide clarity and certainty of process and lead to the timely and efficient granting of permits.