The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Opinion

Mining Is Key to BC's Future, Done Right

While industry touts quick bonanzas, First Nations seek environmentally and culturally sustainable projects.

By Grand Chief Edward John 30 Mar 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit is a Hereditary Chief of Tl'azt'en Nation located on the banks of the Nak'al Bun (Stuart Lake) in Northern B.C. Chief John has been a lawyer for 30 years. He holds a B.A. from the University of Victoria, an LL.B from the University of British Columbia and an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Northern British Columbia.

image atom
Call for reforms: Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit.

First Nations in British Columbia are calling for changes to the way mining is managed. We have seen the reports about how Canada is rich in resources, how mining is necessary to a prosperous future, and how certainty of process is essential.

You will find no argument from this quarter on any of the above basic premises. Contrary to what some people have suggested, First Nations are not opposed to mining per se.

The difference lies in approach. While the industry talks about gold rushes and bonanzas and vast fortunes to be made, First Nations talk about environmentally and culturally sustainable projects that respect their rights from exploration to mine closure.

Making money and doing it right are not mutually exclusive objectives -- quite the opposite. The reason we have not seen a major new metal mining projects open in the past 15 years in B.C. is because there are fundamental problems with the approach to development and decision making.

Learn from failed Prosperity project

The recent federal rejection of Taseko Mines Ltd's Prosperity project exposed the great weakness of the provincial environmental assessment system and has brought widespread demands for reform. If the pro-business and Conservative federal government found that the federal Environmental Assessment (EA) panel review was so "scathing" and "most condemning," that the mine could not be permitted, how can anyone have any faith in a provincial process that declared the project was fine?

Four years ago we saw a similar project rejected; the Kemess North proposal by Northgate Minerals. Again the concept was to dump waste rock and tailings into a fish-bearing lake that First Nations considered sacred.

The industry also knows there is a big problem. Gavin Dirom, president and CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration BC, stated in his Jan. 20, 2011 guest column in the Vancouver Sun that we desperately need to reform the EA process, with First Nations at the table.

An August, 2010 Fraser Institute global survey of 429 mining executives placed B.C. as the second worst jurisdiction in Canada in which to do business and only 26th of 50 locations worldwide. More than 90 per cent cited jurisdiction issues with First Nations as a prime concern.

Now we are hearing from British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark that we have to find a better way to address mining issues.

Deep reform needed

What we still need to hear from governments and industry is that this talk of reform is aimed at addressing the root problems that mining faces in Canada.

The courts have repeatedly recognized First Nations title and rights and made it clear that governments and companies can no longer run roughshod over us or around us, but must work with us.

This has to happen in a genuine way if we are to end the past decades of conflict. When we talk of creating certainty through mining reform it has to mean making real changes to a free entry system that currently gives unparalleled tenure access and rights to exploration companies, and then overhauling the EA laws so that they respectfully engage First Nations and address their concerns.

The federal rejection of Taseko's proposed Prosperity mine highlighted why this system must change. The company spent 17 years and a reported $100 million to pursue a low-grade gold and copper open pit mine that they knew from day one was opposed by the Tsilhqot'in Nation and the relevant federal government departments.

For many this was an eye-opener that change is needed. Unfortunately, others remain blind. For example, Taseko's response has been to try to resubmit its Prosperity bid, despite it being the poster child for how not to pursue a mining project.

Dividing First Nations the wrong path

Equally disturbing -- because it implies First Nations are seen simply as obstacles to be overcome -- was the announcement that the Mt. Milligan mine project had been approved and that it was a shining example of how to pursue a project with local First Nations.

This project was approved after a process in which the original company and the Province worked to divide First Nations. The mine's new owners are now mired in legal battles with the Nak'azdli First Nation, whose lands are being impacted and destroyed by this project. Whether the new owners can resolve this through meaningful negotiations with the Nak'azdli remains to be seen. For now, promoting this as an example of how to work with First Nations only serves to generate more mistrust of the mining industry.

Before there can be certainty for mining, there are hard facts and real issues that must be addressed. Free-entry online staking is a root cause of conflict and leads to money and effort being wasted on projects that are not acceptable. The lack of First Nations' approved land use planning and decision sharing prevents cooperation. The discredited and clearly one-sided provincial EA process inspires no confidence.

To fulfill the promise and potential of responsible mining, these things will have to change. We believe the time is ripe for a serious conversation about the future of mining.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll