First Nation holds veto power on BC mining project

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A coal company and a First Nation in British Columbia have struck a rare deal to give the community the power to veto a proposed mining project, which could set a precedent for how natural resources projects are developed in Canada. NWP Coal Canada and the Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it (YQT), also known as the Tobacco Plains Indian Band, describe the agreement as one of a kind and say it will give the First Nation the power to act as a “regulator and reviewer” of the company’s proposed $400-million Crown Mountain coal mine near Elkford, in the southeast part of the province. The mine would produce coking coal, which is predominantly used for making steel. The project was first proposed in 2010, and construction could begin in 2025. Federal and provincial regulators are currently reviewing the possible environmental impacts of the project.  For the mine to proceed, the project will not only need federal and provincial approval, but it will now require the YQT’s permission. Natural resources companies are required to consult Indigenous communities about large-scale development projects, but this deal could be ground-breaking as it gives the local community veto power to completely reject the proposal.

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