A pair of Vancouver Island First Nations have a signed a deal that will see each benefit from ongoing operations at a major Vancouver Island mine.
The Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai Nations signed an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) with the Myra Falls Mine located near Buttle Lake, southeast of Gold River and west of the Comox Valley.
The mine, located within the bounds of Strathcona Provincial Park since has been operating since 1966 (it preceded the park’s creation and is grandfathered). It produces copper, lead, zinc, and gold ore, which is transported by truck to the Discovery Terminal on Wei Wai Kum reserve land near Campbell River, and loaded onto freighters for export.
The IBA confirms a mutual commitment to consult and cooperate through the remaining years of mining, and provides for environmental input, training, employment and business opportunities.
In addition to the IBA, a lease agreement relating to the Discovery Terminal has also been struck.
“Having gone 57 years without an equitable agreement with this operating mine, these agreements are historic,” said Chief Chris Roberts, Wei Wai Kum Nation. “After many of our members were originally displaced from this land many decades ago, it is a huge milestone for our people to now be planning towards future use.”
Chief Ronnie Chickite, We Wai Kai Nation was also pleased.
“The signing of this agreement is another step on our journey to develop a meaningful relationship with Myra Falls Mine, a relationship that will benefit our people and our communities,” Chickite said.
“Both agreements lay the foundation for a strong partnership and shared benefits – including employment, economic opportunities and environmental protection, among others,” said Adam Foulstone, General Manager, Myra Falls Mine.
The Trafigura Mining Group, which bought the mine in 2020, says on its website that it employs more than 300 people, and is ramping up production to over 800,000 metric tonnes of zinc, lead and copper ore annually
According to the B.C. geological information group MineralsEd, the mine is the only park in B.C. operating within a provincial park. It consists of more than 240 kilometres of tunnels.