Tahltan Central Government president Chad Day and Tahltan Band councillor Scott Hawkins survey a placer mining operation July 4. (Tahltan Central Government photo)

Tahltan attempt to evict jade and placer miners

Northwest First Nation says activity is poorly regulated and causing environmental degradation

A week after Chad Day put out a statement demanding a moratorium on jade and placer mining, the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) president is out on the land serving eviction notices to operators.

A Facebook post this afternoon (July 5) said Day, along with Scott Hawkins, a Tahltan Band councillor, and Kim Marion, a TCG family representative, visited 10 different jade and placer sites yesterday.

“President Day read out loud to each company that their operations within our territory do not have the consent of our people and that they are infringing on our Aboriginal rights and title,” the post stated. “He informed these companies that their ongoing activities are extremely disrespectful and illegal under Tahltan Law and demanded that they cease all activities in Tahltan territory.”

Day’s original message last week stated that “these activities are causing environmental degradation and are being undertaken in a manner that does not respect Tahltan title and rights,” and that TCG has “legal counsel fully engaged with the Province and will force this issue into the courts if necessary.”

READ MORE: Tahltan re-elect Chad Day as president

Placer mining is the practice of mining for minerals (primarily gold) in and near streams and riverbeds. Anybody may hand pan for gold without permission in any watercourse in B.C. except in or on a placer claim or lease; park, protected area, reserve or heritage site; private property; or First Nations land.

More sophisticated extraction operations require a placer claim or lease. The Province has designated huge areas of the province as placer areas and anyone with a Free Miner Certificate can register claims through the Mineral Titles Online system.

Day said he has written to Michelle Mungall, the minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, “demanding action from the Province of British Columbia to take immediate steps to shut down the jade and placer mining activities in our territory.

“We cannot sit back and let jade extraction and placer mining operations continue under the inadequate provincial regulatory regime.”

Day’s claim of inadequate regulation and enforcement is backed up by a 2017 report titled “B.C. Placer Mining: High Environmental Impacts vs. Low Economic Return” by the Fair Mining Collaborative (FMC), a charitable foundation that works with communities, First Nations and lawmakers “to build knowledge of mining impacts and benefits so they can fully participate in fair land-use decision-making processes that affect their future,” according to their mission statement.

“Yet despite the high risk of environmental impacts, the B.C. government is not adequately scrutinizing placer mining,” the report states. “A B.C. Ministry of the Environment audit in 2010 found high numbers of miners breaking rules. Additionally, we have found that, on average, only one in four placer mines with an active permit are inspected each year and fines for illegal activities are likely too low to deter bad practices.”

The report does not specifically address jade mining, but Glenn Grande, FCM executive director told The Interior News in an email it is a real grey area.

“Jade, is a regulatory anomaly, with no clear regulations, but allowed across the same permitting scheme as placer mining,” Grande said.

“Often, placer miners (or even hard rock miners) ‘stumble’ upon a jade rock, then use their available tools and permissions to extract and process these rocks sometimes creating new environmental problems that were never envisioned by the permit. It’s a difficult area of mining to understand, regulation-wise, for everyone we’ve talked to.

FMC makes a number of recommendations including a moratorium on future placer claim staking and work permits until regulations can be reformed.

The ministry provided a statement via email.

“We are aware of the position Tahltan Nation have taken regarding placer mining in their traditional territory,” it said. “Over the past year, we have been working with representatives of the Tahltan Nation to address their concerns.

“The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources is taking steps to improve the regulation of placer mining after seeking feedback through a series of forums with First Nations. Some key initiatives to date include: working with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy on changes to the Placer Mine Waste Control Regulation, implementation of the Regional Bond calculator to ensure regional (including placer) mines have sufficient bonds, and development of Best Management Practices to set out clear expectations for operators.”

It is unclear what, if any, legal authority the Tahltan have to stop the activity, but the ministry confirmed that in order to operate, miners must have a legal claim and permit, which are issued by the Province.

READ MORE: Tahltan reach benefits agreement with Seabridge Gold over massive KSM gold mine project

Another key finding of the FCM report was that the Province gets very little in economic return from placer mining to offset the environmental damage.

“In 2015, the B.C. government collected an estimated $64,965 in royalties, and the placer miners who filed mineral tax returns reported gold sales of 12,982, 931,” it states. “There were 542 placer mines with a permit to operate in 2016, and almost 3,000 placer claims reporting work.”

The Tahltan get nothing from it.



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Tahltan Central Government president Chad Day reads out an eviction notice at a placer mining operation July 4. (Tahltan Central Government photo)

Just Posted

Climate, reconciliation and industry top all candidates agenda in Terrace

Debate was the candidate’s last opportunity to address voters in a public forum

Climate change, economy and reconciliation take centre stage at Oct. 15 All-Candidates Forum

Six of the eight candidates were in attendance at the Smithers event

Career fair a success for many

700 job hunters visited the Black Press Extreme Education and career fair in Prince George Oct. 11

Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams, Nisga’a and Haisla commit to fight climate change internationally

First Nations launch Northwest Coast First Nations Collaborative Climate Initiative

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Council asks to limit cruise ship visits to Victoria harbour

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Most Read