Updated April 29, 2:17 PM PDT

Vancouver, BC, Canada – The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) has decided to formally apply for intervener status in the ongoing appeal of Gitxaala Nation v. British Columbia (Chief Gold Commissioner), 2023 BCSC 1680. In October 2023, a judicial review ruled that the Government of British Columbia owes a duty to consult Indigenous Peoples with asserted rights and title when granting mineral claims. The Court granted the Province 18 months to consult with Indigenous Peoples and the minerals industry in order to modernize the mineral tenure system in a manner that aligns with the principles of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

“As the voice of mineral exploration, we are supportive of the principles and spirit of UNDRIP; we are committed to the implementation of DRIPA into laws that govern our industry; and we fundamentally support efforts to modernize the Mineral Tenure Act.” stated Keerit Jutla, President & CEO, AME.

“The outcome of this Appeal will alter the work of explorers, so we are intervening to provide perspective based on our on-the-ground expertise and experience. We are advocating for certainty and actively bringing proposed solutions to the table. Our goal is to ensure the courts and the Province are fully aware of, and carefully consider, the broader implication modernization has for our industry, how international capital markets perceive British Columbia as a place to invest and how an early path toward economic reconciliation may be achieved.”

The Mineral Tenure Act is foundational to mineral exploration in BC and a critical piece of the legislation that directly affects AME members, which in turn is foundational to the entire mining sector. AME’s legal intervention aims to contribute to the dialogue regarding the interplay between the MTA and DRIPA, and how the MTA can be modernized in a way that is inclusive and beneficial to all stakeholders.  Ultimately, a collaborative process will result in a modernized MTA that respects Indigenous rights, aligns with the principles of UNDRIP and maintains the viability and competitive nature of mineral exploration.

AME is committed to working with all Indigenous communities, including the Gitxaala Nation and the Ehattesaht First Nation, the government, and other stakeholders to develop a modern approach to exploration and engagement that includes a consultation standard that is reflective of both the extent of disturbance to the land and the unique cultural perspectives of a specific Nation’s traditional territory. This approach will respect all land users, rights holders, and uphold the shared interests and values of everyone who lives and works on these lands.

The Association is optimistic that the court will consider its unique perspective on the modernization of the MTA, emphasizing the need for a process that is transparent, equitable, and provides certainty for both the industry and Indigenous communities.