Editorial: Buy out

Tahltan protests shouldn't have come as a surprise

PROTESTS this summer and early fall in the Klappan area by Tahltan and others protesting the presence of Fortune Minerals workers gathering information leading to an application for environmental approval to develop a coal mine should not have come as a surprise. Protests have taken place there before.

But this time there’s an unstated precedent at play and it has everything to do with the departure of another company from the same area.

Nearly a year ago Shell and the province negotiated a trade. The company gave up its drilling rights to explore for Klappan natural gas in return for a $20 million tax credit to use at a facility in northeastern B.C.

That the gas Shell had been expecting to extract was resident to the coal seams Fortune wants to mine should not be understated.

If the province was willing to negotiate the departure and compensation for one company in the Klappan, could the same take place again?

Just perhaps. Fortune has already cited the hundreds of millions of dollars in potential economic benefits its mine could provide and the money already spent on the project, warning that any buy-out would be very expensive.

And the province has expressed a willingness to examine the future of the Klappan area with the Tahltan and a report is expected next spring.

Both positions could very well be taken as the opening positions for complex and intricate negotiations.