DEASE LAKE / VICTORIA, BC, December 16, 2013 – The provincial government and Tahltan Central Council (TCC) have today announced an agreement which pauses granting of new coal mining rights in the Tahltan Klappan area for one year.
Called the Klappan Coal Licence Deferral Area Order, the agreement gives time for discussions to continue between the province and Tahltan Nation to agree on an acceptable and sustainable future for this important part of British Columbia.
The order covers 255,000 hectares of the Klappan. Part of an area known as the Sacred Headwaters, it holds significant value to the Tahltan people where they continue to hunt, camp teach and carry out other cultural activities. It also feeds three of the region’s major salmon- bearing rivers – the Skeena, Stikine and Nass.
Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee said: “The Tahltan Nation is united in its opposition to development in our Sacred Headwaters. This agreement gives us some temporary reprieve, and is the first step in long journey towards a protection plan for the Klappan. We will continue to resist any industrial development there like the Arctos project that threatens to destroy our land and culture.”
62 coal license applications will be affected by the deferral. Existing coal tenures and authorizations, including Fortune Minerals’ Arctos project, will not be impacted.
The Tahltan Nation has long opposed industrial development in the area. In the fall, Fortune Minerals paused exploratory work for an open-put coal mine there. In 2012, Shell relinquished its rights there following years of protests from the Tahltan Nation.