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Lhoosk’uz Dené, Ulkatcho sign agreement with province to share benefits of Blackwater mine

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

Two Indigenous communities in central B.C. have signed an agreement with the Province in support of the recently approved Blackwater Gold Mine within their shared territories.

The agreement supports the development of the proposed gold mine, located in the heart of the Cariboo, and commits to sharing the future mineral revenue generated by the mine.

The agreement between the province, the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation and Ulkatcho First Nation (UFN) commits to share a portion of the provincial mineral tax revenue collected from the planned Blackwater Gold Mine project near Vanderhoof. This agreement is an important next step in moving the project toward a final investment decision, construction and long-term operation. The mine received both federal and provincial environmental assessment certificates in 2019.

“First Nations should share in the wealth from natural resource projects in their territory, and agreements like this one create a true partnership for economic development in the territory,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, in a news release. “When Indigenous communities are partners in the economy, we can build a stronger B.C. that includes everyone, creating opportunities for Indigenous peoples, B.C. businesses, communities and families everywhere.”

In addition to creating a new source of revenue for the two Nations, the agreement commits to collaborative work to develop a process for engagement on future permitting associated with the mine.

“On behalf of my community, we are pleased to support the Economic and Community Development Agreement (ECDA) with B.C. and look forward to the long-term stability it will provide for my current and future generations,” said Chief Liliane Squinas, Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation.

Chief Lynda Price, Ulkatcho First Nation added: “Ulkatcho First Nation agreed with the project only after our environmental concerns and conditions were addressed. This is another opportunity for UFN members to participate in the economy. The ECDA will support capacity development and prepare UFN moving forward in a positive direction. UFN acknowledge this has been a long process, which began in early 2012, and are grateful to have reached this milestone.”

The revenue shared through the agreement could be worth as much as $217 million while the mine is operational. Mineral tax revenue will be shared equally between the two Nations. Total mineral tax revenue during the life of the proposed Blackwater mine is currently estimated to be approximately $722 million.

The Blackwater Gold Mine project by New Gold Inc. will be an open-pit gold and silver mine on 4,400 hectares, about 110 kilometres southwest of Vanderhoof. New Gold expects the mine to operate for 17 years.

The two Nations have also entered into a separate agreement with New Gold Inc. that affords them direct participation in the Blackwater Gold project.

Quick Facts:

* The Blackwater Gold Mine project is expected to create 1,500 jobs during construction and 495 during operations.

* Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation has 243 members and is located 173 kilometres west of Quesnel. Ulkatcho First Nation has 1,062 members and is located 100 kilometres east of Bella Coola.

* Both Nations are members of the Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance and the Carrier Chilcotin Tribal Council.

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