Red Chris and Klabona Keepers in Terrace court today

Supreme Court hearing sees lawyer for Imperial Metals arguing his client deserves damages repaid by protestors

Members of the Tahltan group the Klabona Keepers and environmental activists set up a blockade at the Red Chris mine site this summer.

A BLOCKADE this year by a group of Tahltan and others of the Imperial Metals Red Chris copper and gold mine project caused lost work and higher costs, a company lawyer told a Supreme Court hearing in Terrace this morning.

Kevin O’Callaghan said the company had to use helicopters to transport goods into the mine site and that the blockade threw off the company’s completion date of the $643 million project.

Imperial is seeking a permanent injunction to replace a temporary one granted last month preventing a blockade of the road into the mine site from Hwy37 North.

It’s also seeking damages from the Tahltan group known as the Klabona Keepers who set up a blockade of two roads leading to the mine in August and again from Sept. 29 to Oct. 14.

The August blockade was taken down voluntarily while the October blockade ended when Imperial was granted a temporary injunction against the blockaders.

The Red Chris gold and copper mine is located 15 kilometres from the Iskut, and the Klabona Keepers say the mine is an environmental liability that could cause damage to local wild game and salmon stocks.

The defendants argue that previous land title decisions, notably this year’s Tsilhqot’in decision, gives them a legal basis to group together as First Nations and defend their land.

An affidavit from Tahltan Central Council President Chad Day said that the Klabona Keepers do not have a right to represent the Tahltans.

The Tahltan Central Council and the Iskut band council were originally slated to intervene in the hearing, however they withdrew their intervention today because they said a meeting of the Tahltan and Iskut leadership is slated for this Friday where decisions over which body can decide matters of land usage will be settled out of court.

Lawyer for the Iskut nation Michael J. McDonald said that both the Iskut Band Council and the Tahltan Band Council will have to agree on any impact benefits agreement signed with Imperial Metals before the mine opens.