Opinion: First Nations, mining for change – by Russell Hallbauer (Vancouver Sun – July 9, 2014)


Agreement would give new meaning to New Prosperity mine’s name

Russell Hallbauer is president and CEO of Taseko Mines

Many readers likely will have read that the British Columbia government has now signed 14 economic development agreements with First Nations across the province. These agreements commit the provincial government to share up to 37 per cent of the B.C. mineral tax from B.C. mining operations collected within First Nations’ traditional territories.

Over the past four years, $12 million has been shared with various First Nations. The most recent agreement was the one signed May 21 on the Huckleberry Mine, a few hundred km from Williams Lake.

A similar agreement is being developed between the government and those bands in proximity to our Gibraltar Mine.

These agreements, over the next 25 years of Gibraltar’s life, will allow First Nations communities to benefit directly over and above employment and other opportunities, in the financial success of the Gibraltar Mine.

Taseko personnel were some of the earliest advocates of revenue sharing when the process began with government and the Mining Association of British Columbia a number of years ago.

In that context, everyone in the Cariboo should appreciate what a revenue sharing agreement on New Prosperity would mean to not only First Nations, but to all the communities of the Cariboo. Over the life of the mine, it is expected New Prosperity would generate (at projected long-term metal prices) close to $500 million in B.C. mineral tax.

This would mean that First Nations — or at least those First Nations that sign on to such agreements — would receive about $185 million in direct payments over the course of the mine life when New Prosperity is built and operating: or about $9 million per year. However, if the price of copper and gold were to return to $4-per-pound and $1,500-per-ounce levels, respectively, and hold for the life of the mine, the mineral tax generated by New Prosperity would be nearly $1 billion, meaning First Nation participants would receive $370 million or $18 million each year, $1.5 million per month.

What would that mean to many of the First Nation communities throughout the Cariboo in terms of support programs for mental health and well-being, enhancing community services of all kinds to help people deal with any number of social issues?

For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Opinion+First+Nations+mining+change/9923006/story.html