The Minister of Environment says the government does not offer revenue-sharing on projects such as the proposed diamond mine east of Prince Albert, and the benefits are for all people of Saskatchewan.
Dustin Duncan was responding to a call from the James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN) for revenue-sharing from the project in the Fort à la Corne Forest. That’s in addition to compensation plans and conditions laid out in the province’s environmental assessment approval for the planned mine which would be located adjacent to JSCN reserve lands.
“As a government it’s our position that we will not and do not consider resource revenue sharing as a part of any proposal going forward,” Duncan told paNOW."
He said revenue generated by projects like Star Diamond “is used to fund programs for the benefit of all Saskatchewan residents and not just one particular group or region.”
The James Smith Cree Nation said last week the mine would not happen until their peoples’ interests were satisfied. Speaking following the government's environmental assessment approval of the project, Winston Mclean, an adviser to Chief Wally Burns, said the First Nation was seeking proper participation including revenue-sharing, as well as compensation for the environmental, cultural, traditional and spiritual impacts.
However, Duncan said the government is not compelled to enter into impact benefit agreements and that was “for the company to decide.”
The JSCN labelled their relationship with Star Diamond as “terrible” and criticized the company for “demonstrating an incredible lack of respect for our people.”
Star Diamond declined an interview following the criticism, but said in a media release that opportunities for Aboriginal people would be created through direct employment by the project through a representative workforce.
Asked what the province could do to bring the JSCN and mining company closer together and resolve any differences, Duncan said the government “has and does encourage any proponent, including Star Diamond, to build healthy relationships.“ He also explained the parties were compelled to come together on various aspects associated with the project such as a shared stewardship committee regarding resource management in the forest, and environmental monitoring programs.
“We have stressed the importance of the duty to consult process and we would not be signing off on the environmental assessment without a complete duty to consult," Duncan said. “We’ve communicated that with the company in the past; that they need to take this part of the process very seriously.”
Star Diamond said the project would employ 700 people once fully operational and an estimated 66 million carats, at a value of $2 billion, could be recovered over its 38-year life span.
Before the project can get off the ground further provincial and municipal approvals will be required, although the province has said the environmental assessment was the main one.
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