The Upper and Lower Similkameen Indian Bands will receive $400,000, split equally between the two bands as initial payment of their share of provincial tax revenues collected from Copper Mountain Mine.
The Economic and Community Development Agreement (ECDA)between the Upper and Lower bands and the province is one of 10 EDCAs signed since 2010.
The agreements were assembled to help First Nations benefit from mining activity within their traditional territories. The ECDAs also support a BC Jobs Plan commitment to reach new non-treaty agreements with First Nations.
The two Similkameen bands agreed on a 50-50 split in the revenue prior to the province issuing the revenue.
“The total amount of each ECDA is divided between two or more affected bands on a case by case basis,” said Robin Platts, Communications Manager with Government Communications and Public Engagement for the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
“In the case of Copper Mountain, the two bands worked internally and agreed on a division of the mandate themselves.”
A revenue sharing agreement, signed in March this year, will see the two bands receive a per centage of tax revenue collected by the province each year for the remaining life of the mine.
Platts said First Nations identify community priorites that would use the funds, along with goals and specific outcomes aimed at enhancing and improving the social, and economic well being, as well as improving governance capacity of the band.
“The agreements include annual reporting requirements regarding their progress and their evolving socio-economic goals, however, the agreements do not allow for per capita payments to be disbursed to individuals,” Platts said in an email.
Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow declined comment on the announcement.
Upper Similkameen Indian Band Chief Charlotte Mitchell said, “Our Smelqmix and Syilx Chiefs and councils have been petitioning the province to share the wealth of the resources in our territories for a long time (on record since the time of Sir Wilfred Laurier 1910). We see this agreement as a small step in the right direction; it will be very beneficial to our Elders and children and our future generations. Many thanks to all of our people that had a part in getting us to this day. ”
This year’s share of revenues were based on production from the 2012 mine fiscal year. Annual payments will continue for the life of the mine, estimated at 17 years.
The agreement also contains a comprehensive consultation process that commits the province to working with the bands for all potential future mining activity related to the ongoing operation of Copper Mountain.
The mine is calculated to have a minable resource of more than two million metric tonnes of copper.
More than 300 people are employed at Copper Mountain, which is located 30 kilometres southwest of Princeton.