There has been some discussion in this space over the past two weeks as to how it takes very deep pockets to keep the Aboriginal community happy when wanting to explore or develop on their lands. The assumption is that only the largest, richest companies can succeed, as De Beers Canada has done at its Victor diamond mine.
That's not true at all, if the experience of J. Paul Stevenson is anything to go by.
"I have worked with First Nations for many years as CEO of junior companies," he wrote. "What we don't have in money we have in effort and communication. [I] never found lack of money an issue. In fact, I found a great deal of understanding from communities as to our issues around financing."
Stevenson and I began a correspondence so that I might share his experiences with other CMJ readers. He is currently CEO of Vancouver-based Sego Resources. The junior has two early-stage copper-gold exploration projects in southern British Columbia.
Sego had the honour of receiving an award for Best Reclamation, Mineral Exploration in 2008 from the Upper Similkameen Indian Band.
"The Upper Similkameen have many years experience reclaiming mining properties in the unique climate around Princeton, B.C., so it was actually a case of the band helping the company build capacity. At a junior company level we have a memorandum of understanding with the band and have open and constant communication, utilizing the band's equipment and personnel and generally approaching the project on a team basis," Stevenson said. "We also work closely with surrounding ranchers.
"Certainly community consultation and communication is the right thing to do ethically, but one quickly learns that working with the community has many advantages when it comes to traditional knowledge, local information, access to equipment and repairs, historical data and on and on," he added. "I previously worked for Pacific Booker Minerals, and in my time there I worked with the local communities which was helpful to our exploration and our relationship with the local band and communities."
Stevenson has found his experience with native communities to be good for everyone. "Never has this been onerous in cost and always it has been a great pleasure and good for our shareholders," he concluded.
Two days later, Stevenson wrote to mention that he is Métis. I doubt that has anything to do with Pacific Booker's and Sego's success. It cannot hurt that both companies have the same board of directors dedicated to sustainable communities.
Perhaps his Métis heritage puts Stevenson a step ahead in understanding native culture. But if local bands didn't approve of what Sego is doing, I'm sure they would actively oppose its plans no matter who was at the helm. Certainly, attitude is of primary importance.
I suggest readers wishing to learn more about how Sego succeeds where others fail to go, should contact J. Paul Stevenson at 604-682-2933 or JPaulStevenson@hotmail.com.