MAC: Mines and Communities

First Nations roadblock temporarily halts work at British Columbia mine

Published by MAC on 2010-11-29
Source: Journal of Commerce, Vancouver Media Co-Op (2010-11-24)

Earlier this month we reported the success of Canada's Tsilquot'in First Nation in halting a British Colombia mining proposal. See: Canadian Fish Lake Spared

But we also pointed out that the provincial government had all but permitted another mine, at Mt Milligan, which was being opposed in court by the Nak'azdli First Nation.

Now, some members of the Indigenous organisation have been served with a court order, preventing their demonstrating against the Mt Milligan project.

First Nations roadblock temporarily halts work at British Columbia mine

By Richard Gilbert

Journal of Commerce

24 November 2010

First Nations protesters were served with a court injunction by the new owners of the proposed Mount Milligan mine, after blockading a road and halting construction on the project in north eastern B.C.

"It's a wake up call for British Columbia and the government to work with us and other First Nations, not just on this project but all future projects," said Fred Sam, chief of the Nak'azdli First Nation.

"We are not anti-development or against mines. We want a share in the jobs and other benefits. We are looking out for the long-term interests of our families."

About twenty members of the Nak'azdli First Nation parked a large recreational vehicle across Highway 27 at Rainbow Road on Nov 15.

Access to the mine site, which is 43 kilometres up the road, was also blocked by two 5th wheel trailers.

The blockade refused to allow anyone to leave the mine site or enter onto Rainbow Road.

"We had about 80 people on site, who are putting in a camp, doing initial work for the plant area, undertaking surveys and environmental monitoring, and finishing off the access road," said Wes Carson, manager of operations and development with Terrane Metals Corporation, which is wholly owned subsidiary of Thompson Creek Metals Company.

"We turned the workers around and sent them back to the camp, where we fed them and then engaged the RCMP to get them out."

The Fort St. James RCMP and Carson went to the site and after peaceful discussions, it was agreed to allow the workers to leave.

Workers employed by a Fluor and Amec joint venture, as well as a joint venture between and Ledcor and Duz Cho construction, returned to Fort St. James in 22 pick up trucks and a bus.

"The roadblock went up on late Monday evening, when I was travelling to Vancouver for a meeting with Thompson Creek," said Sam, who was not involved in the planning of the roadblock.

"When we got to Vancouver, they said there was not going to be a meeting because of the roadblock."

Sam eventually met with Thompson Creek chief operating officer Scott Shellhaas later on Tuesday.

Thompson Creek advised the RCMP on Thursday Nov. 18th, that they had obtained a court injunction ordering the removal of the blockade.

The physical road blockade was peacefully dismantled, with all but three of the dozen or so protesters agreeing to cease blocking access.

Two women in their 40's and a 70- year old man were arrested without the use of force, for breaching the court order.

All three are to appear in Fort St. James Provincial Court.

"It's a sign of the frustration that is in the community based on the relationship with the previous owner, who did not recognize that this is our territory," said Ann Marie Sam, who is the Nak'azdli First Nation project manager for the Mount Milligan mine project.

The mine is being built on traditional Nak'azdli territory where they have hunted and gathered food, since time immemorial.

The Nak'azdli claim they were not treated as equals or involved in any sort of meaningful consultation as part of the environmental assessment process.

According to Ann Marie , the Nak'azdli First Nation had negotiated an agreement and worked out a plan with Terrane Metals that outlined how their community input would be included in the environmental assessment process.

However, she said these concerns were ignored in the documents Terrane Metals presented to the provincial government.

In response, Carson said this was a government process that was not set up by Terrane Metals.

"We were directed to consult with the Nak'azdli and two other bands," he said.

"We have done our best through the process to involve the relevant people as much as they wanted to be involved."

According to Sam, the environmental assessment process did not recognize aboriginal right or title, which is against the law.

He said these discussions should have been held directly between the government and the Nak'azdli First Nation.

Former Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced on Nov. 2 that the federal government had granted approval to the $915 million Mount Milligan mine.

The project will be a large gold/copper mine located in north-eastern B.C. about 155 km north of Prince George.

"Everybody is saying that the approvals from the provincial and federal governments have already been given, but we feel the Nak'azdli First Nation still need to give their approval," said Sam.

Despite this approval, the Nak'azdli still think they can mitigate some of the major environmental impacts of the Mount Milligan mine project.

One of the most important demands of the Nak'azdli is that Thompson Creek build a plant at the mine site to treat water before it is discharged into Rainbow Creek and Nation River.

Late last month, Denver-based Thompson Creek Metals Company acquired Terrane Metals for about $700 million.


Nak'azdli blockade enters second day, Mt Milligan mining project proponent threatens legal action

by Nak'azdli Keyoh Huwunline

Vancouver Media Co-Op

16 November 2010

As a First Nation Blockade of work on the Mount Milligan open pit mine site continues for a second day the mine site owner threatened legal action against the blockaders.

The blockade was set up Monday afternoon by Howard Sam and Wayne Sam, holders of adjoining keyohs, traditional First Nation landholdings. The proposed mine would be a deep, wide pit mine straddling the boundary between the two keyohs.

Wes Carson, a Terrane Metals representative, visited the blockade tuesday afternoon and told the blockaders his company plans to minimize the environmental impacts of the proposed mine.

The keyoh holders said this is the first time the company has ever talked to them.

Carson said Terrane, a subsidiary of the American mining company Thompson Creek Metals, wants to do things right. He said they don't want to repeat the mistakes of all the other mines in BC. They said that they didn't know who to talk to but now they know.

The Keyoh Holders told Carson they could organize a meeting with all the family members from the affected keyohs. Carson at first agreed and said they would do anything to help.

He said that he would return the next day to talk to the keyoh holders again but then asked the Sams to remove the blockade. When the keyoh holders would not remove the blockade Carson said Terrane is starting legal proceedings.

Nak'azdli Indian Band Councillors Rosemarie Sam and Charlie Sam joined two dozen other people on the blockade to support the keyoh holders.

"The Royal Proclamation of 1763 signed by King George the Third said the Indians must be protected and the resources must be protected," said Charlie Sam. "We never sold our land. Show us the deed and the bill of sale and we will remove our blockade."

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