The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

B.C. First Nation plans to evict company behind mine tailings spill

  • Print

CHASE, B.C. - A British Columbia First Nation plans to issue an eviction notice to Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX:III) — the company behind a massive tailings pond breach at a gold and copper mine last week — over a separate project in the band's territory.

The declaration from the Neskonlith Indian Band is the latest sign that last week's tailings spill at the Mount Polley Mine in central B.C. could ripple across the company's other projects and possibly the province's entire mining industry.

The Neskonlith band said the notice, which its chief planned to hand-deliver to Imperial Metals in Vancouver on Thursday, orders the company to stay away from the site of its proposed Ruddock Creek zinc and lead mine, which is located about 150 kilometres northeast of Kamloops.

The mine, which is still in the development phase and has yet to go through the environmental assessment process, would be located near the headwaters of the Adams River, home of an important sockeye salmon run. The Neskonlith band opposed the mine long before the Mount Polley tailings spill.

"We do not want the mine developing or operating in that sacred headwaters," Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson said in an interview Wednesday.

"Our elders have stated very clearly that they do not want anything poisoning our water or our salmon."

An earthen tailings dam at the Mount Polley Mine failed on Monday of last week, releasing millions of cubic metres of water and mine tailings into surrounding lakes, rivers and creeks.

Water quality tests have come back within drinking water guidelines and provincial health officials insist the spill won't adversely affect fish, but local First Nations leaders remain unconvinced.

Wilson said the Mount Polley spill shows the company cannot be trusted to build and operate a mine while also protecting the surrounding environment.

"The industry has proven at Mount Polley that they can't regulate all of that," she said.

Wilson said Neskonlith band councillors planned to consult elders and members of their community about how to enforce the eviction, but she said it would likely involve blockades if the company doesn't comply.

A spokesperson for Imperial Metals wasn't immediately available to comment.

The Mount Polley spill is also overshadowing another Imperial Metals project, the Red Chris gold and copper mine in northwestern B.C.

Last week, a group of members of the Tahltan First Nation called the Klabona Keepers announced plans to blockade the Red Chris site in response to the Mount Polley spill.

It's not clear what impact the blockade has had on the mine, which is currently under construction and nearing completion.

The Tahltan Central Council issued a statement last Friday, saying the council doesn't endorse the blockade but wants to listen to the group's concerns.

The company has been discussing a potential benefit agreement with the Tahltan, but Chad Day, president of the central council, has said the Mount Polley spill raises "new questions and concerns" that Imperial Metals must now address.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. said there's no question the Mount Polley spill will make it more difficult for mining companies to earn the support of First Nations.

"I think the Mount Polley disaster will have a profound impact on the mining industry throughout the entire province," said Phillip, who said the province, the federal government and the mining industry all share in the blame.

"The Mount Polley disaster is being viewed as a consequence of what happens when you simply abrogate your responsibilities."

By James Keller in Vancouver

Follow @ByJamesKeller on Twitter

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

J.P. Vigier’s Whiteboard: Coach Maurice’s first full season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you plan on attending any of the CMHR opening weekend events? (select all that apply)

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google