Northwestern B.C. mine blockade lifted

Imperial Metals to pay for independent review of its Red Chris tailings pond design

A BLOCKADE by a group of Tahltan of a mine being built by Imperial Metals on Tahltan traditional territory has been lifted.

Road access to the Red Chris copper and gold mine project is now open following a deal reached between Imperial and the Tahltan Central Council, the overall governing body of the Tahltan.

Imperial will pay for a review of the Red Chris tailings pond design conducted by a company chosen by the Tahltan Central Council.

The blockade, mounted by a Tahltan group called the Klabona Keepers and others, went up Aug. 8 after worries were expressed about the Red Chris tailings pond after the pond at the Mount Polley mine in the Cariboo, also owned by Imperial, failed, pouring liquid into river systems.

The Tahltan Central Council did not endorse the blockade but has been working to find a resolution.

The $631 million project, which is employing Tahltan workers and Tahltan companies, is due to open the end of September.

In a release, Imperial said the review is “to confirm that world class standards have been incorporated in its design, engineering, construction and operation. The review will be conducted by an independent third party engineering firm that has been selected by the Tahltan Central Council” and is to be finished Sept. 24.

“Imperial has agreed to address all material issues, if any, identified by the review in a timely manner and to the reasonable satisfaction of the Tahltan Central Council,” the release continues.

Rhoda Quock, who speaks for the Klabona Keepers, said the blockade was lifted after the group received a written copy of the agreement between Imperial and the central council which provided for an independent review.

And she said the Klabona Keepers are planning to conduct their own review of the tailings pond design.

“It’s nothing against the [Tahltan Central Council] or anything,” Quock said of the decision to perform a second review. “We’re going to work as a nation.”

“Our plan was not to shut down the mine permanently, we just wanted it done in a safer way,” Quock added.