Last night the Tahltan Central Council met with Fortune Minerals officials at the site of protests over a controversial mine development.
The meeting came in the wake of Fortune Minerals being served with an eviction notice last Wednesday by the Tahltan Central Council who say the company was trespassing while conducting environmental assessments. The original eviction notice said Fortune Minerals had 24 hours to leave before a helicopter blockade would be enacted, however an extension was granted to allow for last night’s meeting.
At around 6 pm, Annita McPhee, president of the Tahltan Central Council, Marie Quock, chief councillor for Iskut, Shannon McPhail, executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Society, along with a lawyer for the Tahltan arrived by helicopter. Shorly after, Robin Goad, the CEO of Fortune Minerals, as well as an environmental representative and human relations representative from Fortune arrived via police escort. Police remained on hand for the duration of the meeting, however talks remained peaceful.
Fortune Minerals goal was to open dialogue with the Tahltan, and a group of approximately 50 protesters who have been camping at the site since Wednesday.
“We are very concerned about this protest and threatened blockade. We are concerned about safety and we want to diffuse this situation,” Goad said at the meeting.
Goad also said the decision is up to the province, who will be reviewing Fortune Minerals’ environmental assessment which is currently underway.
“We want the Tahltan to respect the environmental review and not frustrate our work,” Goad said.
“Frustrate? You have helicopters slinging over our camp. That’s dangerous,” Quock countered, adding elders have used the valley in the Klappan and the camp as a food source for countless generations.
Yet, Goad said there is no intention to halt the helicopter activity as Fortune has received the necessary permits.
Fortune Minerals could stand to earn $10 billion in revenue over the lifespan of the project. And although that is a hefty sum, the protestors argued that not everything has a price tag.
“Our investors are our children and grandchildren,” McPhee said.
Fortune Minerals has been on Klappan Mountain since July 2, conducting environmental assessments for the proposed coal mine, the Arctos Anthracite Project, which was initially proposed more than a decade ago.