AuRico Metals has signed an Impact Benefits Agreement with an alliance of three Sekani First Nations for the gold-copper Kemess Underground mining project 250 kilometres north of Smithers.

That includes Takla Lake, Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha collectively as Tse Keh Nay.

The chiefs say the original plan for Kemess North was to use Amazay Lake as a tailings pond.

“It was through our struggles to protect that sacred lake that the Tsay Keh Nay alliance was reunited and strengthened. Through the development of the Kemess Underground Project the Tsay Keh Nay alliance has remained strong; and continues to support each other in the pursuit of environmental integrity, cultural revitalization and community health.”

AuRico says the agreement will foster a long-term cooperative relationship over the lifetime of the project.

“The signing of this IBA is a significant step forward for the Kemess Underground Project and further solidifies our strong relationship with our First Nations partners,” says AuRico President and CEO Chris Richter.

“We are grateful to have their support for the development of Kemess, which is expected to deliver significant economic opportunities and benefits to the region and all project stakeholders for many years to come.”

The proposed project received the federal green light in March pending 87 conditions to reduce impacts to the environment.

The federal government said the project is not likely to cause significant environmental impacts.