The Tsilhqot’in Nation is not against mining despite having issued a mineral exploration company to cease their operations for the year.
Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William says Amarc was going into the IKE project too quickly by calling the area, which is located 50 miles outside of the Landtitle Area as the next highland copper valley mine when too many questions remain answered.
“Our people seen that and when they see advertisement from a company that says you know we drilled nine holes in 2014 and we’re advertising to do more-that’s the language that’s being used and our people are like wow there’s going to be a big open pit mine in the headwaters of Dasiqox and that’s not going to happen.”
William says the mineral exploration mining project is within Dasiqox Tribal Park and an area of high-value wilderness habitat.
He says trust is an issue more than anything in light of the New Prosperity mine project, the Mt. Polley tailings pond breach, as well as Taseko’s Gibraltar mine seeking to increase their permit to discharge into the Fraser River.
“If Fish Lake (near Taseko’s proposed New Prosperity mine) which is a lot lower downstream was turned down by the Federal government with all those questions and concerns, then this area is at least the same if not more sensitive because everything from the mountains goes down to the lake,” he says.
“Those are the questions that are still ahead of us.”
William says their people, as well as the TNG’s concerns on an area which he calls environmentally sensitive, have not been met to date.
“If it’s benefiting us then it shouldn’t be impacting the environment, it shouldn’t be impacting our Aboriginal rights. It shouldn’t be impacting our livelihoods,” he maintains.
“Jobs are high on our radar. That’s very important to us but our elders are saying, our people are saying not at the expense of our environment, of our clean water, of our Aboriginal rights and Title Land.”
Amarc said on Wednesday the project is a very early stage of an exploration process which can take many years, if not decades, in length to determine if a mine is viable.
They are currently in the process of drilling 9 more holes.