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The Muskowekwan First Nation has signed an agreement with Encanto Potash Corp. and the provincial and federal governments that it says will pave the way for the construction of its proposed potash mine on the reserve northeast of Regina.

The agreement is expected to lead to the first – First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act (FNCIDA) legislation that applies existing provincial rules to large-scale projects on First Nations land.

The Tripartite agreement was signed by Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose, the Honourable Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett on behalf of the Canadian Federal Government and the Honourable Provincial Minister for the Economy Bill Boyd on behalf of the Saskatchewan Provincial Government.

“They are breaking entirely new ground by ensuring that Muskowekwan is a significant resource player in Canada for generations to come,” said Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose. “And it helps pave the way for other First Nations to achieve self-source revenues and a self-dictated future full of promise.”

Encanto President Stavros Daskos says the agreement represents another critical piece being in place to allow for the eventual development of the first potash mine on First Nation land in Canada and the first whatsoever to complete the FNCIDA process for such a major project.

According to the FNCIDA website, the process enables a First Nation that has decided to pursue a large-scale commercial or industrial on-reserve project to request the Government of Canada to develop regulations applying to a specific project on a specific piece of reserve land.

FNCIDA works by essentially reproducing the provincial rules and regulations that apply to similar large-scale commercial or industrial projects off reserves and applying them to a specific on-reserve project. This approach, called incorporation by reference, ensures that both on and off-reserve projects are subject to similar regulatory regimes. It increases the certainty for investors, developers and the public while minimizing costs.

This case-by-case approach means that the unique needs and circumstances of each project can be respected, as can the Government of Canada’s unique relationship with, and responsibilities toward First Nations.

Agreements between the Government of Canada, individual First Nations and the provincial government will be developed to enable the province to carry out the monitoring and enforcement of FNCIDA regulations for particular projects.

In practice, this means that projects regulated under FNCIDA are required to meet similar standards as those that apply in the rest of the province and it gives investors and developers certainty by ensuring that they are dealing with regulations and regulators that are well known and understood.

Encanto has been exploring the possibility of a potash mine in southern Saskatchewan for years. It signed a joint venture agreement with Muskowekwan First Nation in 2010.

In January, it announced two new 20-year sales agreements with India-based firms.