The Tahltan Central Government (TCG) says American mining company Newmont will still need consent should it ever wish to develop its gold mine project on Tahltan traditional territory.
The statement comes after the company announced it was putting together a deal to purchase mining claims near the community of Iskut so that the properties could be part of the Tahltan Central Government’s land conservation planning.
Last week Newmont, headquartered in Denver, announced it was buying several parcels of land (mineral claims) south of Iskut, from Skeena Resources Limited. Two properties, North ROK and Coyote, totalling 21,000 hectares, were to be made available to the Tahltan.
While it is not clear whether the land will be officially transferred to the Tahltan, spokespersons from Newmont and TCG said talks are underway.
In a statement released early Monday, TCG said that while it recognizes the steps taken by Newmont may create additional benefits and environmental protections, it does not explicitly endorse these transactions.
“The Tahltan Central Government is clear to outside governments, industry and the world that working alongside the Tahltan Nation as true partners is a must. No exceptions,” said TCG President Chad Norman Day.
“All projects within Tahltan Territory must first obtain the consent of Tahltan people otherwise they will not be supported or successful,” Day added.
It also said that “more work” was needed, especially referring to the shared-decision making agreement that TCG signed with the provincial government last year which allows them to decide the pace and scale of of mineral development on their territory encompassing 11 per cent of B.C.
In 2021, Newmont acquired the Saddle North deposit through the acquisition of GT Gold Corporation in a $393 million deal since then has been waiting for the First Nation’s consent to move ahead with exploration work.
TCG however refrained from granting consent and issued a notice to Newmont voicing environmental issues and concerns from the Iskut community that mining activities were encroaching upon their small, remote village located off Highway 37A in the northwest.
Iskut, often called a “donut” in a mining claims circle due to it being geographically surrounded by major mines including Red Chris and Brucejack, had said that new players entering the field would only further contribute to the problem.
While both sides continue to hold talks to reach a consensus, Day further added that the First Nation continues to safeguard Their way of life. “It is our responsibility to protect what is important to us.”