B.C. Fails to Meet Indigenous Consent Standard for Mining — 8 Recent Cases

Fish Lake - Taseko Mine Proposal ©Garth Lenz, provided by Friends of Nemaiah Valley
December 6, 2021

Photo: Tŝilhqot’in Nation’s Dasiqox Tribal Park (Fish Lake). Credit: Garth Lenz, provided by Friends of Nemaiah Valley.

Vancouver/Ottawa – In a new backgrounder report, MiningWatch Canada and the BC Mining Law Reform network conclude that British Columbia fails to meet the Indigenous consent standard for mining, even two years after the passing of the province’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

The report comes on the heels of a call made by investors managing some $1.1 trillion urging faster progress on Indigenous consent and mining reform in British Columbia. It also follows Gitxaała Nation’s recent legal challenge of the province’s Mineral Tenure Act.

The public interest organizations highlight that, “While B.C.’s mining legislation as a whole continues to allow mining companies to operate with little regard for Indigenous rights, the Mineral Tenure Act —which has its origins in the colonial gold rush days of the 1850s— is arguably the worst offender. In over 150 years, it has not been updated to reflect Indigenous rights.”

The organizations state: “This is especially concerning given that in 2020 alone, approximately 5,000 new mineral claims (1.9 million hectares) and approximately 1,400 new placer claims (63,000 hectares) were acquired without First Nations’ knowledge.”

The B.C. government made a great play of how DRIPA would position the province as a leader in the implementation of of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).

The report concludes: “This should mean FPIC is required for all stages of decision-making about mining projects that may affect an Indigenous Nation or its territories, from the granting of mineral rights to the decision on whether to proceed with a project to the conditions under which a project is designed, implemented, monitored, evaluated, and reclaimed.”