Minister of Aboriginal Affairs says First Nations have no authority to demand access fees
Demands from First Nations for “access” payments from exploration companies are not legal, according to the B.C. government.
According to the Association of Mineral Exploration (AME), a number of junior exploration companies and their suppliers and contractors have been approached by First Nations demanding “access” payments for permitted exploration activities on Crown land. It has not identified the First Nations alleged to have been engaged in the practice.
“Unfortunately, these demands are often conveyed under a threat of inciting work interruptions if payments are not provided,” the AME states in a brief. “Many of these payment demands are not in support of any mutually beneficial quid pro quo business benefits, or potential capacity building arrangements or existing agreements between companies and First Nations.”
According to the AME, its members have reported that a common demand is for a percentage of an exploration budget. “For suppliers or contractors the demand is typically some percentage of the gross billing of a supplier, without any consideration or provision of a service.”
In some cases, there may be overlapping territorial claims, which means there may be demands for payments from more than one tribal group for the same exploration work.
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