First Nation inclusion in the mineral exploration process is still in the dark ages in Manitoba and the mining sector has suffered as a result, says a Toronto lawyer who specializes in such contracts.
Kate Kempton, who negotiated two recent contracts in Manitoba where mineral exploration crosses traditional First Nation land, says there are hundreds of such contracts across the country already, but Manitoba’s just getting started.
“Frankly, it’s about time,” Kempton said in a phone interview. “First Nations were getting completely left behind.” Kempton, who is with Toronto law firm Olthuis Kleer Townshend, recently completed a “mineral exploration accommodation agreement” for lithium between New Age Metals and Sagkeeng First Nation in southeastern Manitoba.
A year ago, she handled the diamond exploration agreement between Bunibonibee Cree Nation (Oxford House) and Altius Minerals Corp. “I was told by members of the Manitoba government that (the latter) was the first mineral exploration accommodation agreement of any substance in Manitoba,” she said.
Manitoba has fallen in the eyes of the mining industry in recent years, as shown by a recent Fraser Institute survey, and a big reason is an ongoing uncertainty regarding protected land and the consultation process with First Nations.
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