Any thoughts of developing a mine site north of Prince George should be shelved forever.
That seems to be the impression that the Tse Keh Nay Chiefs are putting forward regarding the Kemess North project, which was not given approval by a joint federal/provincial panel earlier this fall.
The controversial nature of the mine and the fall out from the panel’s decision was examined in a front page story in Tuesday’s Daily News
CHIEFS WANT TO MAKE SURE MINE DOES NOT RESURFACE
Government urged not to breathe new life into Northwest B. C. mineral project
By Leanne Ritchie ,
The Daily News
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Pages one and three
The Tse Keh Nay Chiefs have asked the B.C. mining industry to stop trying to undermine the recommendation by a joint federal/environmental review panel not to proceed with a mine expansion north of Prince George.
They issued an open letter to the British Columbia Mining Industry, as represented by the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. and the Mining Association of B.C., urging them to stop and retract the 'harmful campaign' to undermine the Kemess North Joint Review Panel's recommendation to the federal and provincial Ministers of the Environment that Northgate Minerals' proposed mine "not be approved".
The First Nations were responding to brochures and letters put out by the two groups, including one called Kemess North and the Road to Sustainability that was received by Prince Rupert City council.
The brochure notes that "it is extremely unlikely that this project will ever be developed if it does not get the green light relatively soon," and that the panel's "decision requires further examination".
Both the Hartley Bay Band council and Kitsumkalum Band council are among some 42 First Nations supporting the Tse Keh Nay Chiefs in their request.
“They all support our statement to industry that Amazay Lake must be protected because it is so tremendously important to us for spiritual, cultural and environmental reasons,” Grand Chief Gordon Pierre said.
“They also support our call to industry to stop its harmful campaign to undermine the review panel’s major recommendation to government.
“They recognize that the panel’s decision represents to us protection from the company’s terrible plan to destroy the lake,” he added.
The Kemess North project being proposed by Northgate Minerals includes the construction of a second open pit just north of the existing Kemess South mine, 425 kilometres northwest of Prince George.
The Kemess North project being proposed by Northgate Minerals was meant to increase the life of the operation of the Kemess mine for another decade, continuing 350 existing jobs.
The small nation opposes the project because it will use Amazay Lake as a tailings dump and in September the Joint Review Panel recommended the government not provided Northgate with approval for the project because “the economic and social benefits provided by the project, on balance, are outweighed by the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and cultural effects, some of which may not emerge until many years after mining operations cease.”
Since then, the company has shelved the project but it is seeking further clarification from government about its intentions, while mining associations have spoken about uncertainty the decision is causing in the industry.
”In our view the panel’s decision settled the Kemess North issue,” Pierre said.
The chiefs will be seeking confirmation from the provincial and federal governments that the mining industry’s campaign will not influence their decision on the project, expected in January.
“The Tse Keh Nay will continue to build relations with those exploration companies who approached us in a respectful way by recognizing our Aboriginal title and rights upfront,” Pierre said.“In light of the recent Tsilhqot’in title victory, Aboriginal title and rights is something both mining associations have to recognize as well.”