The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

B.C. First Nation, privacy commissioner issue notice to Imperial Metals

  • Print

VICTORIA - A British Columbia First Nation has issued an eviction notice to Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX:III), the second such ejection aimed at the battered firm that was behind a massive tailings pond breach last week at the Mount Polley mine.

Also on Thursday, B.C.'s privacy commissioner issued notice that she was investigating to see if the government had duty to warn the public about the potential risks connected to the gold and copper mine in the province's Cariboo.

The Neskonlith Indian Band declared its intention to boot the company from the Ruddock Creek zinc and lead mine, a separate project in the same territory located near the headwaters of the Adams River.

The band claims the operation, about 150 kilometres northeast of Kamloops, threatens some of the most important watershed and salmon runs in the core of Secwepemc territory.

Earlier Thursday, members of the Tahltan First Nation in northwestern B.C. also met with Mines Minister Bill Bennett to discuss an ongoing blockade at the Red Chris Mine, which is also owned by Imperial Metals.

Millions of cubic metres of water and silt flooded Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek when the Mount Polley mine's tailings pond burst on Aug. 4, but multiple water test samples have returned within drinking-water quality guidelines and the Interior Health's medical officer proclaimed fish safe to eat.

The Neskonlith band said in its notice it believes the breach could have been prevented if the company had "respected and implemented" the First Nation's law and environmental regulations.

"It is no longer acceptable for corporations foreign to Secwepemc territory to seek to access our lands and resources and benefit off them without the prior informed consent of the Sewepemc people and without full remuneration," said the notice.

It cited the landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling in June that granted aboriginal title for the first time in Canadian history to the Tsilhqot'in Nation, and said the Neskonlith hasn't signed any agreements with the company or the province.

"We have not provided our consent to the proposed mining development," the notice reads, addressing the company's owners, employees, insurers and investors. "We assert Secwepemc inherent jurisdiction and Aboriginal title."

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson has said her band is prepared to enforce the eviction with a blockade, if necessary.

Bennett, meanwhile, was attempting on Thursday to persuade a group of Tahltan elders, known as the Klabona Keepers, to end their blockade of the Red Chris mine, south of Dease Lake.

The protest began last week as a demonstration of the elders' anger with Imperial Metals, but the minister said after personally sitting down with the group that he believes most are satisfied by a company offer to pay for an engineering review of that mine's tailings pond.

Giving the Tahltan total control of the independent review is key, Bennett said.

"They'd pick the engineering consulting firm, and I have promised that government will not allow the company to commence operations and start using the tailings pond until after the Tahltan have had this opportunity to get the independent oversight," he said.

Back in Victoria, privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she's now acting on a complaint her office received and will determine whether the government was legally bound to disclose information about the gold and copper mine prior to the failure.

"In the aftermath of the breach, concerns are being raised about what the government knew about the condition of the Mount Polley mine and whether the public should have been notified of potential risks before the disaster occurred," she said in a news release.

Denham noted that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act imposes legal requirements on public bodies to provide people with timely information where there is a significant risk of harm, or where information is in the public interest.

Her office has the power to compel disclosure of documents, interview government and company officials, make determinations of compliance within the law, and recommend changes.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jets This Week: Predicting the line-ups

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think e-cigarettes should be banned by the school division?

View Results

Ads by Google