The Tahltan Central Government and the Province of British Columbia (BC) in Canada have signed a consent-based decision-making agreement regarding mining permits.

Signed under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act), the agreement has been reached to honour the jurisdiction of Tahltan in land-management decisions in Tahltan Territory.

The first mining project to secure permits from an indigenous government will be the Eskay Creek revitalisation project.

This would advance reconciliation with the Tahltan Nation in addition to providing predictability and clarity for the revitalisation of the Skeena Resources-owned past-producing Eskay Creek gold-silver project in Tahltan Territory.

Tahltan Central Government president Chad Norman Day said: “Today marks an exciting step forward in the evolution of the relationship between the Tahltan Nation and the Province of British Columbia.

“The Tahltan Central Government has been clear on behalf of all Tahltan people that there will be no world-class mining jurisdiction in Tahltan Territory without robust Tahltan stewardship, which must include world-class wildlife and fisheries management, strong environmental mitigation measures and recognition of our 1910 Declaration.”

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The two governments also intend to change the traditional approach to environmental assessment permit authorisations by British Columbia by placing the values and rights of Tahltan at the forefront.

BC Premier John Horgan said: “This historic step shifts BC’s legal decision-making framework to respect First Nations jurisdiction, recognise the inherent rights of the Tahltan and provide a clear, stable and sustainable path for everyone to work together.”

Under a shared intent, the governments also aim to build a sustainable mining model, as well as ‘world-class’ environmental practices.

Skeena external affairs and sustainability senior vice-president Justin Himmelright said: “As an already developed mine site with existing road access, waste management facilities, nearby access to green power, and robust economics, gaining consent from the Tahltan Nation on whose unceded land Eskay Creek is located, is a crucial step in an efficient approval process for the project.

“It also provides certainty of the Tahltan Nation’s legal authorisation to revitalise Eskay Creek. We look forward to working with our Tahltan partners and the governments of British Columbia and Canada to bring this iconic project back into production.”

Skeena plans to restart operations at the Eskay Creek Mine as an open-pit gold-silver mine.

Located 83km north-west of Stewart and 125km south of Iskut within the traditional territory of the Tahltan nation, the project was in operation between 1994 to 2008.