Tahltan Nation wants jade and placer mines gone, unless they make serious changes

The Tahltan Nation in northern British Columbia is handing out eviction notices to companies mining jade and placer on its territory.

The mines have been operating in their traditional territory for over 30 years without consent.

“We have never had a thorough engagement process set up with the government to consent to these kind of industries,” says Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan National Government.

“B.C. seems to think they are low impact industries, but when you look at the impact collectively and when you look at the lack of regulations you quickly realize that cumulatively they have a very negative impact on the land base.  There’s just a lot of problems right now so we don’t consent to them and we’ll never consent to them until there are serious changes.”

Day was in Vancouver discussing his nation’s new investments, but spoke to APTN News about his trip by helicopter out to different sites.

What he saw made him upset.

“You see equipment that’s been abandoned for decades, you see several roads that go right through fish bearing streams and they use those roads continually,” says Day.

“There’s a lot of garbage all over the landscape and you see a lot of areas that have been mined through Placer and Jade operations that have never been reclaimed properly.  It’s not that we are against economic development, but we are not going to allow irresponsible development that is going to leave a mess for our future generations and have a negative impact on our communities, our wildlife and fisheries.

(Chad Norman Day, president of Tahltan National Government, handing out eviction notices. Photo courtesy: Tahltan National Government)

Day says there are at least 25 companies in Tahltan Nation exploring for or extracting jade.

Nephrite grade jade is an important rare resource, with three quarters of the world’s market coming from B.C.

Last month, Day handed out eviction notices to 10 sites – and plans on handing out more.

“We understand that they have tenures that were legally given to them and that some of these operators are not breaking any provincial laws,” says Day.

“But regardless of whether they are breaking provincial laws or not, these are industries that are fundamentally unconstitutional because they have taken place without properly engaging with the Tahltan people and there’s been no benefits back to the people in terms of employment, contracts, revenue sharing, and ensuring that we are heavily involved in the environmental work.”

Days says he’s been in contact with the B.C. government and expects a positive outcome.

“They are very live to the concerns that we brought up and I am very confident that steps are going to be taken in the next year to make sure a lot of our concerns are addressed,” says Day.

“Otherwise, the conflicts are going to increase in intensity and the Tahltan don’t want that, the province doesn’t want that, the operators don’t want that.  The whole purpose behind going out there and serving these letters was to put everyone on notice that the Tahltan Nation is no longer going to tolerate these industries and things need to change.”

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