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Policy Update: MTA Modernization

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Policy Update: MTA Modernization






Further to our Policy Update and News Release on Thursday, March 7, 2024, regarding the agreement reached between the BC government and Gitxaala Nation and the Ehattesaht First Nation, AME has received detailed information about the Orders in Council issued that are designed to protect the Nations’ mineral interests.



Orders in Council



The Orders in Council, made under the Environment and Land Use Act, relate to specifically designated areas on Ehattesaht and Gitxaala territories. They pause current mining activities and the issuance of new permits; and prevent the registration of new mineral claims without agreement by the respective Nations. Our understanding from government is that the interim orders are a temporary measure and will be repealed when a modernized Mineral Tenure Act is in place in spring 2025.



The actual Orders (OICs 110, 111, 112, and 113) are now publicly available. The language differs from the draft documentation we received and from the conversations we had with representatives from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation just prior to the settlement announcement.



The details of the Orders can be summarized as follows:




–       Five-year moratorium on all mining activities, including handwork

–       Five-year moratorium on new mining leases

–       Five-year moratorium on new or amended permits under the Mines Act

–       Indefinite pause on the registration of new mineral or placer claims without agreement by the respective Nations



The two Nations and the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation have also agreed to support amendments to the interim orders if Ehattesaht or Gitxaała reach agreement with companies seeking to explore or mine in their territories.



Impacted tenure or permit holders in these designated areas can find more detailed information available here.



Government clarity



Over the past five days, we expressed to government three main concerns with what has been communicated:


–       The language in the Orders do not reflect temporary measures. Rather the language indicates some of the prohibitions expire in 2029, while others are indefinite.

–       Prior to the Orders, it was not made clear that the moratorium would apply to both mineral exploration and mining.

–       Assurances are required that no further interim orders are expected that restrict mineral tenure or mining permits in other parts of the province.



Together with other industry partners and First Nations, we urged the government to provide written clarity.



Further to our discussions with EMLI, it was confirmed to AME that these protections are temporary and will be repealed when an updated MTA is in place. The Ministry will not consider similar protections for other First Nations and instead intend to address their interests as part of the MTA reform process.



Government remedy



We are also urging the government to engage with impacted tenure holders and discuss fair remedy immediately. It is our understanding that government has contacted all impacted tenure holders. If you are an impacted tenure holder and have not heard from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, please let us know via email:



Looking forward



While the work to modernize the Mineral Tenure Act is completed, mineral explorers across the province need to have the confidence they may continue to explore and acquire tenure. This is the only way to advance the discovery of critical minerals in support of the made-in-BC Critical Minerals Strategy.



We remain committed to the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIPA) and are actively establishing working relationships with First Nations and stakeholders to collaborate on how to construct a modern mineral tenuring system. We are advocating for a modernized MTA that protects Indigenous rights and the environment; and protects the intellectual property, integrity and viability of our members and their ability to explore BC’s mineral potential to unlock shared benefits.



In the meantime, we continue to remind the BC government that certainty regarding mineral tenure, permitting and environmental assessment is the foundation of global investment confidence in the mineral exploration and mining sector.



For further reading and perspectives



Fasken: Consultation Prior to Mineral Claims Staking – Part 3: British Columbia Announces Interim Measures [March 8, 2024]



McMillan: The Latest Risk to the BC Natural Resource Sector: Government Uses Little Known Law to Freeze Mining Rights Unless First Nations Consent [March 11, 2024]

Posted March 12, 2024

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