Ktunaxa Nation and BC sign deal on revenue sharing from coal mines
The B.C. government and the Ktunaxa First Nation signed a revenue-sharing agreement Tuesday that could see the two governments split millions in mining revenues from new developments in B.C.’s largest coal field, the Elk Valley.
The agreement has the potential to make the Ktunaxa a significant partner in tax revenues generated from the coal fields, giving them, initially, more than a third of the region’s mineral taxes collected on new developments.
The Elk Valley in the East Kootenays contains the province’s richest mineral resource, metallurgical coal, which is used for steelmaking in Asian countries. Last year, the major mining company operating there, Teck Resources, produced 23 million tonnes of coal.
Although the agreement only applies to new projects or expansions to existing ones, Ktunaxa Nation chairwoman Kathryn Teneese said she expects the agreement to begin contributing to tribal revenues soon. She said she is aware of three new projects in the works within Ktunaxa territory, which covers 66,000 square kilometres in the province’s southeast. Existing mines also have expansion plans, she said. One of the new projects is Centermount Coal, which filed an application with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Jan. 18 to develop a mine producing two million tonnes of coal a year over a mine life of 20 years.
Exactly how much revenue the agreement will provide for the Ktunaxa remains unknown. But according to a 2011 report by consultants PwC, B.C. collected $129 million in mineral taxes that year. Coal, mostly from the Elk Valley, accounted for 90 per cent of those revenues.
“This will provide us with the opportunity to move forward in the direction we plan for ourselves,” said Teneese. “I think (the money) will be fairly significant. The formula is 37.5 per cent of the first $23 million in revenue tax. In terms of the Ktunaxa First Nation, that’s very significant because it’s more than we have now.”
The First Nation has a population of 1,500 to 2,000 people, many of whom live off-reserve. Teneese said new housing is likely to be the main priority, but that the Ktunaxa also want to use the revenue to establish a heritage fund for the future.
B.C. has signed four revenue-sharing agreements with B.C. First Nations in the last two years as part of an initiative to make them partners in resource development and to increase certainty on the land base for resource companies, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong said in announcing the agreement Tuesday.
“This agreement embodies the spirit of the new relationship vision and a transformative change of course,” Chong said, noting that it is the first one that covers the entire Ktunaxa territory and enables new projects to be incorporated over time. “It is not project-specific. We do not have to go back each and every time to make amendments.”
The deal also includes amendments to an existing forest revenue-sharing agreement with commitments to provide future revenues. In 2013-14, the Ktunaxa are to receive $917,000.
Dan Smith of the First Nations Summit Task Group said the Ktunaxa agreement is an example of revenue-sharing that all First Nations are striving to achieve.
“It is critical for First Nations to have the opportunity to negotiate interim agreements such as this. … However, this agreement only represents the tip of the iceberg of the kinds of government-to-government relations First Nations require in our respective territories.”
The government made the announcement at the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. convention at Vancouver, where mining leaders have been urging support for current provincial resource policies.
Teck president Don Lindsay told delegates the industry needs “a stable, competitive investment climate in order to have the confidence to explore for, to develop and to make the huge investments to bring these projects online.”
To drive the point home, Lindsay repeated that statement, then said “given that we have an election coming up.”
Posted on February 1, 2013, in Indian Act Indians, Mining and tagged band councils, chief Kathryn Teneese, coal mine, Elk Valley coal field, First Nations+revenue sharing, indian act band councils, Ktunaxa First Nation, Teck. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.