B.C. Govt., First Nations sign historic mining tax agreements

RENO, NV – The British Columbia provincial government has signed two historic tax-sharing agreements with two First Nations communities for two specific mining projects that aboriginal groups claim as traditional territory.

The chief and council of the McLeod Lake Indian Band and the BC government signed an historic agreement Wednesday which allows the First Nation band to share mineral tax revenue generated by Thompson Creek and Terrane Metals’ Mt. Milligan copper-gold mine project.

Goldcorp is a major shareholder in Terrance, which is being acquired by Thompson Creek in a friendly Cdn$650 million cash and shares deal.

Mt. Milligan is planned for an annual production of 81 million pounds of copper and 194,000 ounces of gold over a 22-year mine life. Proven and probable reserves are 2.1 billion pounds of contained copper and 6 million ounces of contained gold.

On Tuesday the B.C. government signed its first historic mining revenue-sharing agreement with the Stk’emlupsemc of the Secwepemc Nation (SSN) which covers future revenue from New Gold’s New Afton gold mine.

Located 10 kilometers from the community of Kamloops in south-central B.C., New Afton is expected to commence production at the former Teck mine in the second half of 2012. The mine is expected to produce an average of 85,000 ounces of gold, 214,000 ounces of silver and 75 million pounds of copper over a 12 year mine life.

In a news release, Randy Hawes, BC’s minister of state for mining, said, the agreement “sends a signal to the mining industry that B.C. is a stable and progressive place to invest.” The Economic and Community Development Agreement hopes to provide the financial resources to help the First Nations achieve their social and economic goals.

Chief Shane Gottsfriedson of the Tk’emlups First Nation said, “With this agreement we are building and strengthening our government-to-government relationships on venture that benefit us all.”

Chief Rick Deneault of the Skeetchestn First Nation said the New Afton agreement “will bring other economic opportunities and employment for our communities and stability for future generations.”

Hawes said the agreements will promote environmentally responsible mineral development. “B.C. wants to work with other First Nations to develop mining projects that meet some of the highest environmental standards in the world for the benefit of all British Columbians.”

In a statement, the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia Vice President Laureen Whyte said, “This is a game changer for our sector and the First Nations in whose traditional territories we operate. I hope that the First Nations in BC now will look at mineral exploration as an opportunity to help enable them to build stronger, healthier communities, and strengthen their cultural foundations.”