Tahltan Council to meet Fortune Mining presidents after Elders serve eviction notice
The Tahltan Frist Nation Central Council President will meet the President of Fortune Minerals to discuss the future of the mining projects in the area.
"Our people have been opposed to this mine. We are afraid that it will destroy an area of critical social, cultural, and spiritual value to our people. Our people want to seek the protection of the Klappan," Tahltan Central Council President Anita McPhee said.
Yesterday, a group of Tahltan Elders served an eviction notice to Fortune Minerals’ exploration camp, which was undertaking measures for environmental assessment, including drilling, before the project was approved. The eviction deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. today.
Fortune Minerals has been conducting exploratory work for the company's controversial Arctos Anthracite Coal Project, a plan to remove most of Mount Klappan and replace it with a 4,000 hectare open-pit coal mine. The area is adjacent to the Spatsizi wilderness area and is sacred to the Tahltan, who have hunted and fished around the area for many generation.
Shannon McPhail, Executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conversation Coalition, said Fortune's exploration camp on traditional activities of the Tahltan nation has infringed on the Nations' hunting activities, and said they were not interested in pursuing the project.
"There’s no way they’re going to allow this. They’re not interested in entertaining a coalmine at all. What history has showed us is that the Tahltan won't back down."
The Tahltan have a history of blockades against Fortune Minerals. In 2005, the Tahltan blockaded the company for months from entering the Klappan, resulting in multiple Elders being arrested and a drawn out legal battle. They were also part of a movement to evict Royal Dutch Shell from their territory from accessing their territory in the Sacred Headwaters a few years ago.
McPhee however was not as sure about the possibility of blockades this time.
“I don’t know," she said. "I know that the last time Fortune had our people arrested because they weren’t willing to leave.”
McPhee aims to communicate the Tahltan’s firm opposition to Fortune’s mining project in the meeting. She also continues to look for long-term solutions for the protection of the Klappan Mountain and surrounding area.
“We’re going to continue to look at all the process…we’ll continue to look permanent protection solutions with the government.”
“I can't see our people saying 'yes'. It's not about the economics for that area."