DEASE LAKE, BC, Sept. 24, 2013 /CNW/ - The Tahltan Central Council is celebrating Fortune Minerals' decision to halt mineral exploration activities in the Klappan.
Mining company Fortune announced yesterday that it is halting all drilling and suspending all activity at its Arctos Anthracite coal project, at the base of Mount Klappan. The announcement came after weeks of sustained efforts by Tahltan elders, leaders and community members to persuade Fortune to leave the area.
Commenting on the news, Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee said: "Today we are celebrating the strength and unity of our people
"Tahltan people have again demonstrated their commitment to protecting the lands and waters of our territory, which have sustained us for generations. I want to thank all the elders, community members and leaders of our community who have stood strong in the Klappan - we are all proud of you."
Fortune's announcement came after a visit by Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines for BC, to a Tahltan camp at the foot of Mount Klappan on Saturday. He met with Tahltan members for over an hour, and heard loud and clear that Tahltan would not allow the Fortune project to proceed.
McPhee added: "I want to acknowledge Minister Bennett for coming to meet with our people and to hear our concerns. It is an important step towards helping the Province understand why this area must be protected.
"Fortune's withdrawal is a very welcome development, but it is only a first step. Now we must work together to build a vision for the Klappan that puts this kind of conflict behind us. We have to move this process forward urgently."
Earlier this month, Tahltan and the Province have agreed to work together to develop a plan for managing and protecting the Klappan.
Fortune Minerals' proposed project is located in a critically important area that requires long-term management and protection to preserve cultural and ecological values for the Tahltan people. Mount Klappan, which is part of an area known as Sacred Headwaters, is a traditional hunting ground and has significant cultural value. It also feeds three of the region's major salmon-bearing rivers - the Skeena, Stikine and Nass. The Tahltan people therefore oppose any coal-related development in the area.
Tahltan Central Council is the Tahltan Nation governing body representing the collective aboriginal title and rights of all Tahltan peoples.
SOURCE: Tahltan Central Council
For interviews or background information contact Annita McPhee, President, Tahltan Central Council: 604-754-9974.