VANCOUVER — The relationships between Indigenous nations and British Columbia’s mining sector are set to change as the province works to match its laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Mining Minister Bruce Ralston says B.C.’s “formal relations” with Indigenous nations and their participation in the sector are already a “strong asset” for companies and investors considering mineral operations in the province.
“Investors are looking for signs that things are being done right, things are being done fairly,” he told a news conference earlier this month.
However, details of when and how B.C.’s mining laws may change because of the declaration aren’t yet known. It’s expected to take years to fully implement the act adopting its 46 different articles, which was passed in the legislature in November 2019.
In the meantime, companies must chart their own path to comply with the declaration or risk legal uncertainty, said Merle Alexander, a Vancouver-based lawyer whose work focuses on Indigenous nations and resource-based sectors including mining, forestry, oil and gas, and hydropower.