The Tahltan Nation has voted in favour of a Cooperation and Benefits Agreement worth an estimated $380 million over the next 50 years with Seabridge Gold’s KSM gold mine project.
In a joint press release with Seabridge, the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) said 77.8 per cent of members voted positively on the terms, adding the milestone agreement also represents a thorough framework on which to build social licence.
“The Tahltan people have spoken and have ratified the KSM IBA that provides the Tahltan Nation with far reaching economic benefits and strong commitments to the environmental management of the land that we hold sacred,” says TCG President Chad Norman Day.
In addition to the royalties and cash payments agreed to, the project is estimated to deliver between $1.6 billion and $2.2 billion in wages for Tahltan workers and $1.5 billion in construction and operations contracts. Under a “Tahltan First” hiring process, up to 450 positions will be available during construction and 275 during operations. An additional $7.5 million is being made available for training and scholarships.
Seabridge calls the KSM (Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell) Project one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world, based on reserve measurements in a preliminary feasibility study totaling 38.8 million ounces of gold and 10.2 billion pounds of copper.
“We believe that the KSM IBA provides the basis for a genuine partnership between the KSM Project and the Tahltan Nation for decades to come,” says Seabridge Chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk. “The Tahltan Nation’s representatives have made many valuable contributions to the evolution of KSM. We have listened to their environmental, cultural and economic concerns, which have been rooted in the best interests of the Tahltan Nation, and we have crafted ways of addressing these concerns into KSM’s design.”
Included in its environmental commitments, Seabridge will spend up to $2.5 million on environmental monitoring contracts with Tahltan companies. Fifteen environmental management programs will include Tahltan collaboration, with up to 10 positions in the environmental department going to Tahltan members.
The company has also pledged to the province $75,000 at the start of construction and $30,000 per year thereafter for wildlife and aquatic initiatives along hwy 37 and 37A. An additional $100,000 will be earmarked for TCG-led land stewardship programs.
The project received its provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate in July, 2014, and federal approval the following December.
The Tahltan Nation’s Territory spans 95,933 square kilometres, roughly 11 per cent of the province, and includes 70 per cent of B.C.’s so-called Golden Triangle. The territory is home to three of BC’s 19 operating mines or their shared footprint, and to approximately 25 per cent of B.C.’s exploration activities by expenditure, according to TCG.