Avanti Mining Inc. ("Avanti") is aware of the recent decision of the Nisga'a Lisims Government to initiate dispute resolution with the provincial government in respect of the environmental assessment for Avanti's Kitsault Mine.
The company remains confident the environmental assessment process has been thoroughly and properly conducted and expects a decision from government in the days ahead.
The British Columbia environmental assessment process is one of the most rigorous anywhere. Avanti has spent four years and $13 million on it. This includes a 600 page report specifically dedicated to the economic, social and cultural interests of the Nisga'a citizens pursuant to Chapter 10 of the Treaty. The Nisga'a have been key participants throughout the process and Avanti provided them significant capacity funding to do so.
"The amount of work that we have done to ensure the Nisga'a Treaty requirements have been met has been extraordinary and unprecedented, and the government has already gone well past the statutory timeframes," said Avanti President Craig Nelsen. "We firmly believe that BC and Canada have fulfilled their obligations under the Treaty and fully expect the Ministers to approve this project at this time."
Nothing in the Nisga'a Treaty or provincial legislation prevents ministers from making their decision at this time on the basis that the Nisga'a have initiated dispute resolution.
The Kitsault Mine was previously operated from 1968 to 1972 and from 1981 to 1982 but has been sitting as a brown field site ever since that time. The proposed mine design includes environmental benefits, such as containing all water run-off and managing it through a single release point, with treatment as necessary to ensure environmental protection. "We are confident the science is sound and the record is robust," added Mr. Nelsen.
The development and operation of the mine will provide up to 700 jobs during a 25 month construction period and approximately 300 jobs for the 16 year planned mine life. "We see this as an opportunity for increased economic prosperity for the Nass region and are pleased to provide an environmentally sound project which will bring these benefits," said Nelsen. There are training activities started in cooperation with the BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association, Northwest Community College and the Nisga'a villages.
Key benefits to local communities, including the Nisga'a would include the following:
- Investment of approximately $1 billion in new capital spending over a 25 month construction period
- Creation of over 700 direct construction jobs
- Creation of over 300 direct jobs during the 16 year mine life
- Skills training for the first nations to qualify for these jobs
- Contract awards for supply of services and materials
- Reclamation and environmental monitoring post closure of the mine.
Avanti has also previously indicated it would be prepared to explore a benefits agreement with the Nisga'a, provided terms can be reached that are acceptable to both parties. However, any such discussions are not relevant to the Ministers' decision-making, and will not be the subject of dispute resolution between the Nisga'a and government.