Impacts and Benefits Agreements
The Voisey’s Bay deposit is located within areas that are subject to land claims by Innu and Inuit. Rights to these traditional lands belong to two Aboriginal groups – the Innu and Inuit of Labrador who are represented by Innu Nation and the Nunatsiavut Government, respectively.
Impacts and Benefits Agreements (IBA) are typical where a significant project is proposed for development on a First Nation’s “traditional lands”. Traditional lands are the First Nation’s ancestral lands over which they have Aboriginal rights. Mining projects, as an example, have the potential to have social, cultural and environmental impacts on traditional lands and on local communities. Since it is the traditional lands that will be impacted, it is only fair that the neighbouring First Nations have the opportunity to realize the benefits of such developments. Thus, the negotiation of IBAs has become a common step for Canadian mining companies seeking to open mines on traditional lands.
IBAs are formal, written agreements between companies and First Nations that help to manage the predicted impacts associated with an industrial development and to secure economic benefits for neighbouring communities affected by that development.
Vale has successfully negotiated IBAs with Nunatsiavut Government and Innu Nation, resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship where benefits to Aboriginal people are maximized and negative outcomes are minimized. While details of the agreements are confidential, they do provide specific business, employment and training opportunities for members of Innu Nation and Nunatsiavut Government related to the mine and concentrator component of the development.
IBAs vary considerably in their scope and complexity, depending on the scale and nature of the project and the issues identified by the negotiating parties involved. However, most agreements include topics such as:
- Environmental protection, including special concerns about wildlife
- Protection of Aboriginal social and cultural values
- Education, training and employment
- Health and safety
- Business opportunities
- Aboriginal access to the project site
- Financial arrangements
- Dispute resolution mechanism