DEASE LAKE, B.C. — A new agreement between the province and an Indigenous government in northern British Columbia will require the nation’s consent ahead of any significant changes at a major copper and gold mine.
Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government, says the agreement means substantial changes to the existing environmental assessment certificate for the Red Chris mine can only proceed with Tahltan approval.
Day says the deal is a “significant milestone on our path toward reconciliation.”
A joint statement released by the Tahltan and B.C. governments says the nation and the province’s environmental assessment office will conduct their own analyses of proposed changes, including those needed to transition Red Chris from open-pit to underground block cave mining.
The Red Chris property spans more than 230 square kilometres and is 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake, B.C.
Day says the agreement respects Tahltan title, rights and jurisdiction.
“It is a long-overdue step forward in our evolving co-governance relationship. It sets a precedent and signifies the importance of real consent in project amendments,” he says in the statement.
“Reconciliation and economic development can indeed coexist, guided by strong environmental, social and governance standards, as envisioned by the Tahltan people,” he adds.
Environment Minister George Heyman says the nation and the province have built a strong partnership that supports economic certainty for projects and provides regulatory clarity, while protecting the environment for future generations.
Indigenous Relations Minister Murray Rankin says the province is tangibly demonstrating that respect for Indigenous self-determination benefits all of B.C.
“B.C. and Tahltan continue to make history,” he says in the statement.
“Our governments and industry are working to uphold Tahltan jurisdiction and advance reconciliation.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2023.
The Canadian Press