Canada province, aboriginals in mine revenue deal

Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:38pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - British Columbia signed an agreement on Tuesday that will see Canada's westernmost province share tax revenue from the mining industry with aboriginal groups, the first such deal in the mineral-rich region.

The agreement between the Canadian province and the Stk'emlupsemc of the Secwepemc Nation was welcomed by the industry, which hopes the deal will improve relations between miners and First Nations people, and make native Indian groups more receptive to mining activities on or near their lands.

"It is the right thing to do. It is also good for business," said Pierre Gratton, President and Chief Executive of the Mining Association of British Columbia.

These agreements will help "to show First Nations right at the outset that there is something for them from our activities," Gratton told Reuters.

Native groups were not immediately available for comment.

Tuesday's agreement is expected to be the first of many in the province's mining sector, said Randy Hawes, British Columbia's minister of state for mining. The province's large forestry sector has been sharing revenues with First Nations since 2003.

The deal inked on Tuesday will see mineral tax revenue generated by New Gold Inc's New Afton project shared with the Tk'emlups and Skeetchestn First Nations.

Over the life of the mine, which is currently under construction just outside the town of Kamloops, some C$30 million ($28 million) is expected to flow to the two native bands, Hawes told Reuters.   Continued...