Aboriginal title ruling ‘all but guarantees uncertainty’ for CA mining projects – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – July 11, 2014)


“Future natural resources projects may be scuttled, and existing projects may be halted or shut down,” said Ravina Bains of the Fraser Institute.

RENO (MINEWEB) – In a briefing published Thursday, British Columbia’s Fraser Institute’s Centre for Aboriginal Policy Studies warned that a recent Canadian Supreme Court ruling granting a group of six B.C. First Nations title to a large piece of land outside their reserves “will likely stunt economic development across Canada”.

“This court ruling all but guarantees uncertainty for natural resource projects in Canada and a potential increase in cost for economic development across the country,” said Ravina Bains, associate director of Aboriginal policy studies at the Fraser Institute.”

Unlike previous court rulings, the Tsilhqot-in Nation v. British Columbia judgment states that Aboriginal title can extend to all traditional territories and is not limited to specific villages. “This is particularly important in B.C. where one-third of the country’s First Nations reserves reside and where outstanding claims involve more than 100% of the province’s land,” said the Frasier Institute study.

On lands where Aboriginal title has been recognized and there is no First Nation consent to a mining or exploration project, “proposed projects may be set aside by the court,” said Bains. “This is also true for existing development projects.”

“This puts current and potential development and risk and results in increased uncertainty for economic development in British Columbia,” she suggested.

”This decision will have significant ramifications for treaty negotiations, and for future and current economic development in Canada,” Bains warned. “It may well encourage further litigation, as First Nations chose to seek relief through the courts rather than at treaty or other negotiation tables. This is particularly important in British Columbia, where there are only a handful of historic and modern treaties, where one-third of the country’s First Nations have their homes, and where claims cover over 100% of the land in the province.”

The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that Aboriginal title includes the rights to: decide how the land will be used; the right of enjoyment and occupancy of the land; the right to possess the land; the right to the economic benefits of the lands; and the right to proactively use and manage the land.

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