Tahltan First Nation bans mining company in dispute over coal mine

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DEASE LAKE, B.C. – A northern B.C. First Nation has banned a mining company from its lands as a bitter fight over a proposed coal mine escalates, again.

Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee says Fortune Minerals (TSX:FT) must not enter Tahltan Nation communities without permission from the Iskut and Tahltan bands.

Fortune wants to build an open-pit coal mine on Mount Klappan, within traditional Tahltan territory, and First Nation leaders are angered by reports that company officials have directly approached reserve residents to promote the mine.

McPhee says the Tahltan oppose the development in an area known as the Sacred Headwaters, source of three major salmon-bearing rivers: the Skeena, Stikine and the Nass and considered by aboriginals to have extreme cultural value.

Last September, about 40 Tahltan, including elders, moved into Fortune’s camp site at Mount Klappan and asked the workers to leave, but Mines Minister Bill Bennett helped diffuse the tension.

He travelled to the remote site to assure protesters he would urge Fortune Minerals not to seek an injunction, while Fortune president Robin Goad said the company pulled out to give time and space for discussions, but added Fortune is still fully committed to the coal mine.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version included the incorrect stock symbol.

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