If passed, act will replace mirrored federal legislation
The Northwest Territories government says more accountability on negotiations between industry and Indigenous governments is a hallmark of its long-awaited Mineral Resources Act, which was tabled in the legislature Monday.
If passed, companies will be required to sign a benefit agreement with affected Indigenous groups before companies can proceed with any major mining projects.
The act replaces mirrored federal legislation the territorial government has been using since it started managing its own land and resources after devolution in 2014.
Guidelines as to what benefits are considered reasonable will be written into the act’s regulations. And if Indigenous governments and mining companies aren’t able to come to an agreement, the matter would be sent to “an independent decision maker,” said deputy minister Tom Jensen.
“Both the proponent and the Indigenous government have rights,” he said. It’s already common practice for mining companies to negotiate impact and benefit agreements with Indigenous governments before projects go ahead, but government officials say putting a process in law will give companies more clarity.
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