A partnership of First Nations, exploration companies and provincial government representatives is working well, as the three groups collaborate to progress mineral exploration and mining in northwest British Columbia.
That was the message behind a panel discussion Tuesday at Roundup 2019, inside the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver.
The four-day annual event is a chance for mineral explorers, mining company employees, members of government, mining suppliers, geologists and academics to exchange ideas, technologies and project updates.
At The Gathering Place, a room fronted with a traditional longhouse, a series of presentations centred around dialogue meant to foster mutually beneficial relationships between indigenous groups and the mining industry.
The last session of the morning featured an update on the BC Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA). A panel hosted by Dave Nikolejsin, deputy minister of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resource, included:
- Walter Coles Jr., President & CEO, Skeena Resources Ltd
- Chad Day, President, Tahltan Central Government
- Charlie Greig, Vice President, Exploration, GT Gold Corp
- Corinne McKay, Secretary-Treasurer, Nisga’a Lisims Government
- Rob McLeod, President & CEO, IDM Mining
- Ben Whiting, Vice President, Exploration, Dolly Varden Silver
Formed last May, the BCRMA is a pilot project between the province, the Tahltan Central Government (TCG), the Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG), the Association for Mineral Exploration (AMEBC), and three junior resource companies: Dolly Varden Silver, Skeena Resources and GT Gold. A fourth company, IDM Mining, has since joined the alliance.
All four juniors are working in the "Golden Triangle", an area that was the site of three gold rushes and some of Canada's greatest mines including Eskay Creek, Snip and Premier. Snip and Eskay Creek were high-grade mines, with Snip producing at an unheard of, in today's terms, 27.5 grams per tonne during the 1990s. Eskay Creek at one time was Canada's highest-grade gold mine and the world's fifth largest silver producer.
The Golden Triangle however is remote, and when metals prices slumped, exploration activity dwindled. The BC government created renewed interest in the area with the building of new infrastructure – the 335-km Northwest Transmission Line, a three-dam hydroelectric facility, and the paving of the Stewart Cassiar Highway north from Hazelton. Glacial recession has also played a factor in uncovering prospective mineral terrain.
Tahltan President Chad Day said joining the Regional Mining Alliance was a way for the Tahltan to strengthen bonds with the Nisga’a Nation – who signed BC's first modern-day treaty in 2000. He noted that hundreds of Tahltan are working in mines and mineral exploration, bringing home an annual $20 million a year, not counting revenue sharing from mines and provincial tax credits.
He also sees RMA membership as "an opportunity to further increase capacity, by getting a more holistic understanding of the industry by being able to go to government, by being able to go with these exploration companies to understand the reality they face, when they need to go to the outside world to talk to investors, to live that lifestyle of a junior exploration company."
IDM Mining recently received an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EA) from the provincial and federal governments for its Red Mountain Gold Project.
"Working with Nisga’a as a third level of government throughout the process was wonderful to get all the impact, traditional knowledge and economic considerations so we're really happy to be part of it and we hope to continue for them to grow," said CEO Rob McLeod.