By Lloyd Dolha
The province of British Columbia announced that it has authorized its provincial negotiators to include revenue sharing with First Nations on new mining projects, making British Columbia the first province in Canada to share direct revenue from the mining industry. “Government is prepared to share the direct benefits of mining with First Nations,” said Gordon Hoag, Minister of State for Mining. The process for the development of revenue sharing will be decided on a project-by-project basis with a strong focus on First Nations’ community development. The announcement means that First Nations will receive direct revenue throughout the life of new mine projects.
The Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC) lauded the province’s commitment to sharing revenue with First Nations. “The MABC and our counterparts in industry have been calling for resource revenue sharing with First Nations for some time,” said MABC president Pierre Gratton. “We are pleased to see the government moving in this direction.” MABC said resource revenue sharing would help increase certainty for access to land and resource development and may also provide an important basis for the accommodation of First Nations’ interests. Leaders of the province’s mineral exploration sector, the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AMEBC), applauded the provincial move, noting that revenue sharing will play an important role in building a new relationship with First Nations. “AMEBC has been a strong advocate for revenue sharing,” said Laureen Whyte, AMEBC vice-president. “We anticipate that revenue sharing will increase First Nation participation in the mineral exploration and mining industry and will facilitate new opportunities for cooperation and partnership.” The association noted that tax revenue sharing is only possible after a mine is developed, as no revenues are generated during mineral exploration. Robert Stevens, chairman of AMEBC says, “The government’s new policy assures First Nations that they will benefit once a mine is in production and paying taxes.”
Aboriginal leaders have long asked government to include revenue sharing on new mine developments, and there will be further discussions with the First Nations Leadership Council about how revenue sharing will occur. “The industry recognizes it is important that communities share in the benefits that mining brings,” said Gratton. “Resource revenue sharing ensures that more wealth stays in the regions where it originated.”