DEASE LAKE, BC, May 4, 2012 /CNW/ - The Tahltan Nation expressed opposition today to the Province's decision to issue a Mines Act permit authorizing construction of the Red Chris copper and gold mine. The Red Chris mine, located 20 kilometers east of the Tahltan community of Iskut, is a 30,000 ton/day open pit mine proposed for the Todagin Plateau area of Tahltan territory. On Friday May 4, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources issued a Mines Act permit that allows the mine to proceed.
The Red Chris mine is highly controversial and has already been the subject of one court case. In 2010 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Federal government had not complied with its legal duties to prepare an environmental assessment for the mine. The mine's owner, Imperial Metals, has still pushed ahead and is now poised to begin construction.
"We have been expressing concerns about the impacts of this proposed mine to our communities, our traditional practices, our environment, our cultural values and our Aboriginal title and rights for years" said Annita McPhee, President of the Tahltan Central Council that represents the collective Aboriginal title and rights interests of the Tahltan Nation. "This mine has a proposed life-span of 40 years, and poses risks for the Klappan, one of the most sensitive and important areas for the Tahltan People. Not everything has been done to address our concerns about long-term pollution to our water, and the damage to a landscape that our people have relied on to feed and support themselves since time immemorial. We do not accept that it can proceed without having our concerns properly addressed."
The Red Chris mine would turn a pristine valley and a lake into a tailings pond, and seriously damage Todagin Mountain through the construction of an open pit. A major concern is that Imperial Metals has not demonstrated its ability to protect ground and surface water from pollution, leaving Tahltan with a major contamination risk that will last for generations to come.
"Our people will be here, living on this land, long after this mine closes. We are the ones that have to live with these impacts and risks" said Ms. McPhee. "Decisions like this, which don't appropriately take our interests into account, undermine our trust in the Province and make it extremely difficult to work together. We will have to look at all options going forward."
For further information:
Annita McPhee, President, Tahltan Central Council at 250-771-3274, 250-771-5121