DEASE LAKE, BC, Sept. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Tahltan Central Council has reacted angrily today to the Province's announcement by press release that it has, without consultation, appointed a mediator to push through the development of an open pit coal mine on Mount Klappan.
The announcement was made Tuesday (September 17) in a press release issue on the provincial government website.
The press release states that the purpose of the mediator is to "allow the [open pit coal mine] Arctos project to proceed". The news comes just a week after a joint Tahltan and Province working group was set up to look at the long-term future of the area, which is also known as the Sacred Headwaters.
"I am incensed," said Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee. "This is the most shocking, appalling and upsetting step I have seen from the Province in my years on the Tahltan Central Council."
She added: "In one ill-advised, poorly worded and insulting press release, the Province has pre-judged that the Fortune Minerals' Arctos project should proceed, even though it hasn't yet gone through their own assessment process.
"We had no prior knowledge that the Province was about to appoint a mediator: this decision was made without consultation or agreement on what this person's mandate might be. It backtracks on the working group which we set up last week."
When the announcement was made, Tahltan leaders immediately contacted senior Government officials asking for it to be retracted to allow the difficult situation to be discussed and a suitable outcome agreed. While officials did meet with Ms. McPhee on the evening of September 18th, the release had not been retracted.
"I simply don't understand why the Government thinks the way to defuse a situation of this complexity is through unilateralism. The pathway to resolving this is by building trust, not cultivating mistrust."
- The announcement of the appointment of a mediator on the project can be found here: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2013/09/statement-regarding-mediator-appointment-at-mt-klappan.html
- Last week's announcement of a joint working group can be found here: https://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2013/09/tahltan-province-launch-klappan-strategic-initiative.html
- A group protesting against the development of Fortune Minerals' Arctos mine project last week occupied two test drilling rigs
- For interviews or background information contact Annita McPhee, President, Tahltan Central Council: 604-754-9974
SOURCE: Tahltan Central Council