Nisga’a to benefit from gold mine taxation

Brucejack gold mine in northwestern B.C. is owned by Pretium Resources

The Nisga’a of the Nass Valley are to be double beneficiaries from the construction of a gold mine near Stewart.

In addition to Nisga’a citizens having employment and business opportunities arising from the Brucejack gold mine owned by Pretium Resources of Vancouver and for the Nisga’a Lisims Government to receive payments and royalties from the company, the Lisims government is also in line for a share of provincial mineral tax revenues from the mine when it goes into production in 2017.

Details are still being negotiated behind closed doors indicates a statement from the provincial government. “Any details on negotiations remain confidential until agreements are concluded,” added the statement.

The groundwork for a share of mineral taxation dates back to the Nisga’a land claims treaty of 2000 which laid out Nisga’a geographical spheres of influence.

And last year the province signed an agreement with the Nisga’a to negotiate project-by-project economic and community development agreements.

A portion of the Brucejack property is within the area over which the Nisga’a have an influence.

The province has negotiated more than a dozen economic and community development agreements with First Nations and when applicable to mines, provide the latter with 35 per cent of the net mineral taxation collected each year.

Nisga’a Lisims president Mitchell Stevens said he was confident a deal with the province for a share of Pretium’s mineral taxation would be signed in due course.

“It’s just a formality,” said Stevens of the agreement which would follow an already-established provincial policy on sharing mineral taxation.

“I don’t see any problem with it.”

While the deal between the Nisga’a and the province for the Brucejack mine will be the first between the two for a mine going into production, they did sign an earlier agreement for another proposed mining project.

And that was for the Avanti Kitsault molybdenum property which was scheduled to start construction this year but has been delayed because of poor markets and not being able to completely raise the capital needed. In that agreement, the Nisga’a signed up to receive a projected $43 million a year over a planned 16-year operating life.

As well, the Nisga’a are receiving $123,820 a year from the province in revenue sharing from the newly-completed Long Lake hydroelectric project near Stewart.

A direct jobs and economic benefits agreement between the Nisga’a and Pretium includes the latter setting a target for mine-related Nisga’a employment and training within the estimated 400 jobs Pretium will create through its planned 18-year operating life.

That provision is going to benefit the Nisga’a but other employment and business opportunities will benefit the region, said Stevens.

“I can’t stress that enough,” said Stevens of the impact that Pretium will have on the area.