Agreements between First Nations and Mining Companies
BC Mining Issue:Provincial legislation does not require a mining company to enter into Access / Exploration Agreements with local First Nations.
Fair Mining Best Practice:Legally require mining companies to enter into Access / Exploration Agreements with affected First Nations.
After the Negotiation Agreement, there are two types of agreements that are negotiated between First Nations and mining companies: Access / Exploration Agreements and Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs or Resource Agreements).
Agreements between First Nations and mining companies are one of the most effective ways to ensure that cultural, environmental and economic concerns are fairly addressed.
Many First Nations’ resource policies may require certain that agreements be signed with mining companies at every stage of mining activity?
Access / Exploration Agreements:
The negotiation of Access and Exploration Agreements is an essential way for mining companies to establish a good relationship with local First Nations prior to mining activities and exploration. Among other things, they outline types of exploration, and define the area under exploration.
Current BC mining laws do not require prospectors or mining companies to consult or obtain consent before entering and conducting exploration activities on traditional territories. However, First Nations can exert influence by requiring Access and Exploration Agreements in their resource policies.
Access / Exploration Agreements may provide First Nations with the opportunity to:
- Obtain information and give feedback on the type, timing and location of the exploration activities on their traditional territories.
- Extend the time allotted for reviewing Notice of Work applications beyond the 30 days mandated under BC Law.
A list of subjects and concerns to include in access / exploration agreements are provided in “Appendix A”
Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs, also referred to as Resource Agreements)
BC Mining Issue:There are currently no legal obligations for proponents to enter into IBAs with affected First Nations.
Fair Mining Best Practice:Legally require IBAs between mining companies and First Nations as a prerequisite to issuance of exploration related mine permits.
Agreements are the most important negotiating tool between First Nations and mining companies; and of these, the IBA agreement is often seen as the most important. Common themes within an IBA, such as employment opportunities, community development and financial participation, can help ensure economic and cultural sustainability
Although there are currently no legal obligations under BC Law for mining companies to enter into IBAs with affected First Nations, options do exist for achieving the benefits of this important agreement:
Learn from the experiences other First Nations with IBAs
A great resource can be found here: “IBA Community Toolkit: Negotiation and Implementation of Impact Benefit Agreements”
Although BC encourages mining companies to negotiate IBAs with First Nations, it is not a legal requirement. In contrast, both the Yukon and Nunavut governments require mining companies to enter into IBAs with affected Indigenous people before any work begins.