A NORTHWEST aboriginal group says the provincial government should not have issued a permit giving the construction approval for the Red Chris copper mine development owned by Imperial Metals.
“We have been expressing concerns about the impacts of this proposed mine to our communities, our traditional practices, our environment, our cultural values and our aboriginal title and rights for years” said Annita McPhee, President of the Tahltan Central Council.
“This mine has a proposed life-span of 40 years, and poses risks for the Klappan, one of the most sensitive and important areas for the Tahltan people. Not everything has been done to address our concerns about long-term pollution to our water, and the damage to a landscape that our people have relied on to feed and support themselves since time immemorial. We do not accept that it can proceed without having our concerns properly addressed.”
The development is within Tahltan traditional territory and is southeast of the tiny community of Iskut.
Imperial has said it wants to be the first customer for BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line which is now under construction.
Development plans call for Red Chris to be open in mid-2014.
The construction approval permit was issued under the Mines Act and follows federal and provincial environmental approval.
McPhee said Imperial Metals has yet to demonstrate it could protect ground and surface water from pollution.
“Our people will be here, living on this land, long after this mine closes. We are the ones that have to live with these impacts and risks” said McPhee. “Decisions like this, which don’t appropriately take our interests into account, undermine our trust in the Province and make it extremely difficult to work together. We will have to look at all options going forward.”