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HomeNewsWilliams Lake First Nation say they have concerns with mining company

Williams Lake First Nation say they have concerns with mining company

The Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) is concerned with a mining exploration operation in the Cariboo region.

“As gold prices go up, copper prices go up; we are starting to see a lot more activity in the territory in regards to exploration. I know some of the companies that are working the territory are refusing to come to the table and actually have meaningful dialogue, one of those companies being EnGold,” Chief Willie Sellars stated.

EnGold is currently exploring the Lac La Hache area and has been doing so for years.

Sellars said that they have great relationships with many other companies, but with EnGold, that is not the case.

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“If they don’t want to come to the table and meaningfully engage with our government, then they are not welcome in the territory,” Sellars stated. “When companies like EnGold refuse to meaningfully engage, we are going to make sure that they don’t have our support on any project that they are working on in our territory.”

Sellars notes that one of his concerns is the environmental damage mining can cause.

“We want to actually see what the project is, how it’s going to impact the environment and be involved right from the get-go. That’s how you have a successful project nowadays. you need to engage with the First Nation.”

Sellars adds that they have no intention of disrupting business, but they need to keep these companies honest.

“There are good corporate citizens and not-so-good corporate citizens. According to their website, this company is committed to the environment and engagement. WLFN sees no evidence that either of these things are true,” he said.

The President and CEO for EnGold, David Brett, said that Sellars’ claims are not valid.

“I take First Nations engagement very seriously,” he said via a written response. “Not long after I took the reigns as President and CEO of EnGold, I initiated contact with WLFN. In 2016, I set up a meeting at the WLFN band office so we could share information, get to know each other, and establish a trusting relationship. Our 2016 meeting was followed up by several other meetings, a site visit, and lots of information exchanged via email. At no time has WLFN expressed any specific concerns about our environmental compliance, sustainability efforts, or other specific grievances about our activities.”

Brett said that he was dishearted to hear Sellars’s comments.

“I have been very proactive in engaging with local First Nation because I sincerely believe that they should benefit significantly from a resource developed in their territories,” he said. “Myself and our investors believe the Lac La Hache Project has great potential, and our vision is to see it develop into something that brings benefit t0 communities throughout the region.”

Part of Sellars’ concerns are related to the failure of the Mount Polley Mine tailings storage facility in 2014 marked the largest mining disaster in Canadian history. Mount Polley mine is squarely in WLFN’s Stewardship Area and the Williams Lake First Nation continues with the legacy of that incident.

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