Tahltan to cast votes on mine deal

Members of the Tahltan Nation vote next month on a comprehensive agreement arising from the Red Chris copper and gold mine

  • Mar. 18, 2015 7:00 p.m.

Members of the Tahltan Nation are to vote next month on a comprehensive agreement providing employment and other economic benefits arising from the Red Chris copper and gold mine located on their traditional territory.

The balloting, from April 16-18 to be conducted in person, by phone or online, follows a series of community meetings held close to the mine’s location in Dease Lake and Iskut north on Hwy37 North and in Terrace and elsewhere.

Details of the proposed agreement, resulting from a prolonged period of negotiations, are being kept confidential, said Steve Robertson, a vice-president with mine owner Imperial Metals.

“It includes consideration for jobs, training, education, contracting opportunities and revenue sharing,” he said.

The proposed deal, which Robertson is calling an impacts benefit agreement, is being referred to by the Tahltan Central Council, the overall governing body of the Tahltan, as a co-management agreement.

Approval by the Tahltan would continue a series of similar agreements with companies who have operations within Tahltan traditional territory.

That list includes Calgary energy company AltaGas which spent $1 billion on three run-of-river hydroelectric projects along the Iskut River.

Power from those projects flows into BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line.

The Tahltan also voted in favour of a benefits agreement tied to the power line crossing into Tahltan traditional territory.

The benefits agreement aside, the Tahltan still need to approve of the copper and gold mine’s tailings facility before the provincial government will issue Imperial a final permit paving the way for full production.

Earlier this year, the province gave Imperial a temporary permit allowing it to begin processing ore as a test of the mine’s facilities.

Imperial then began trucking out concentrate bearing copper and gold to the port at Stewart for eventual transport.

“It’s a real watershed moment for us. It’s been a very long road to production at Red Chris and we are already there,” said Steve Robertson of the first gold and copper shipments.

“We continue to work very closely with the Tahltan regarding this permit and plan to have community meetings in the Tahltan community sometime in April,” said Robertson.

“This will allow us to address details of our application with the Tahltan people and their consultants in advance of the issuance of the final Environment Management Act permit,” he said.

Some members of the Tahltan community have for years expressed worries about the environmental impact of the mine which has a capital cost of $643 million.

Those worries at times grew into a roadblock of the mine mounted by Tahltan and others.

One happened last summer after the failure of the tailings pond at another Imperial copper mine, Mount Polley in the Cariboo.

Imperial then agreed to pay for a tailings pond design review by a company chosen by the Tahltan Central Council.

Despite the review finding the soil quality under the Red Chris tailings facility to be a potential issue, the ministry of the environment said it is a far cry from Mount Polley where the underlying composition of its tailings pond was a factor in its failing.

“The overall design and location of the Red Chris tailings storage facility is quite different than the Mount Polley tailings storage facility,” said mines ministry official David Haslam.

“Red Chris has no lacustrine clay layer in the foundation and will be required to discharge from the tailings storage facility on  an annual basis.”

At Mount Polley, the tailings pond was regularly built up to hold more discharge.

“It was determined by the Independent Expert Panel’s investigation that the tailings dam failed at Mount Polley because the strength and location of a layer of clay underneath the dam was not taken into account in its original design,” said Haslam.


Just Posted

Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce celebrates big win for LNG

Federal government moves on recommendation to provide relief on steel duties

Terrace resolutions on liquor tax, childcare to be presented at UBCM

City of Terrace agenda takes aim at provincial ‘downloading’

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena Voices | Happy campers

Arizona couple celebrates 20 years of summer camping on Ferry Island

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read