TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The British Columbia provincial government and the First Nation Tahltan Central Council (TCC) on Monday announced in a joint statement an agreement pausing the granting of new coal mining rights in the Tahltan Klappan area for a year.
Called the Klappan Coal Licence Deferral Area Order, the agreement provided more time for discussions between the province and the Tahltan First Nation to continue, with the aim of finding an acceptable and sustainable future for this part of the province.
The order covered 255 000 ha of the Klappan, including part of an area known as the ‘Sacred Headwaters’, which the First Nation said held significant value to the Tahltan people, where they continued to hunt, camp, teach and carry out other cultural activities. It also feeds three of the region’s significant salmon-bearing rivers – the Skeena, Stikine and Nass.
“The Tahltan Nation is united in its opposition to development in our Sacred Headwaters. This agreement gives us some temporary reprieve, and is the first step in long journey towards a protection plan for the Klappan. We will continue to resist any industrial development there like the Arctos project that threatens to destroy our land and culture,” TCC president Annita McPhee said in a statement.
Sixty-two coal licence applications would be affected by the deferral, however, existing coal tenures and authorisations, such as Fortune Minerals’ Arctos project, would not be impacted.
The Tahltan Nation had long opposed industrial development in the area. In the fall, Fortune Minerals paused exploration work on an openpit coal mine in the area. In 2012, Shell relinquished its rights there following years of protests from the Tahltan Nation.