British Columbia’s Tahltan Nation and Nisg̱a’a Nation announced Thursday that they have joined together in a new partnership that brings new life to a historic and centuries-old Peace Treaty, through the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership.
The partnership was announced on the final day of AME Roundup conference in Vancouver and will optimize the Nisga’a and Tahltan’s participation at the massive Seabridge KSM project.
Seabridge Gold’s (TSX:SEA) KSM project is the biggest new mine proposal in resource-rich British Columbia, where there are currently eight new mines or mine expansions in the queue worth a total investment of C$6.6 billion ($4.9bn), according to Premier David Eby.
Seabridge recently produced a feasibility study and preliminary economic assessment plan for the gold, copper, silver and molybdenum deposit. It envisions a 33-year open pit operation and an additional 39 years of underground mining. The company plans to spend C$225 million this year on early-stage construction.
Of the eight new mines or expansions in the queue, one is unique in that it will be the first mine to be built on Nisga’a Nation treaty land.
The partnership, which strengthens the Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations positions in mining and exploration has been established through their respective development corporations, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation and Nisg̱a’a Growth Corporation.
Already a powerful player in BC’s mining industry, in 2021, the Tahltan Nation made a $3.9 million investment in Skeena’s Eskay Creek gold-silver project in the province.
Both Nations will be equal partners in the newly established Treaty Creek Limited Partnership to create new opportunities for Nation members through training and employment with KSM.
The Nations have a long-standing, historical relationship that dates back centuries, and a mutual understanding on the boundaries of their respective traditional territories, settled at Treaty Creek in 1898.
Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government said the partnership reinforces a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding.
“That has come to fruition with the creation of the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership, whereby the Nisga’a Nation and Tahltan Nation will combine forces to maximize joint opportunities on the Seabridge KSM project,” Day said.
“There is so much potential to increase capacity with both Nations. Working together can only optimize participation in the industry while ensuring we are providing those capable with the support and tools to ensure they can build sustainable, life-time careers in the industry.”
The Nisg̱a’a Nation settled the first modern-day Treaty in British Columbia in May 2000, providing ownership of over 2,000 square kilometres of Nisg̱a’a Lands in constitutionally protected rights to over 26,000 square kilometres of Nisg̱a’a Traditional Lands and law-making authority.
The Nisg̱a’a appointed Chris McNeil and Andrew Robinson as its two Directors to the partnership.
At a Gathering Place forum at AME Wednesday that kept with the conference theme ‘Critical to Our Future,’ Robinson, Peter Robb, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and Charles Morven, Nisga’a Lisims Government secretary-treasurer discussed how the Nisga’a Nation aims to become a bigger player in the mining industry.
Robinson emphasized how the Nisga’a will use its treaty position to provide support to communities during the permitting process in the province — which is known for its lengthy delays.
Morven said the Nation wants to bring certainty to the investors that are comfortable working with First Nations that have treaties.
“Part of our mining strategy is to see the capacity that we do have to fill roles – there are a lot of jobs out there, Morven said.
“Another part is that Nisga’a is going to do more,” he said. “We’ve talked to investors. We as the Nisga’a Nation want to be one of those that mining companies are coming to to look for investment. As we move forward and build our capacity, we’ll engage more with the operations of a mine and learn more about the investments of a mine.”
“Our expectations will be investing in mines and owning mines.”