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NEWS: Blockade set up to protect streams from becoming tailing impoundment areas

The CBC reports that, “First Nations protestors are blockading the road into the Mount Milligan copper and gold mine northwest of Prince George. Nakazdli members have parked a large recreational vehicle RV across Highway 27 at Rainbow Road. The mine is being built on their traditional territory where they hunt and gather, an unnamed protest spokesperson said. The protesters allowed a busload of workers to leave the work site, but no one will be allowed back in, the spokesperson said. The Nakazdli have (also) launched legal action to stop the mine.”

“The $1 billion open pit mine won approval Nov. 2 from the federal environment ministry over the objections of the Nakazdli First Nation, which has mounted the roadblock.” The Vancouver Media Co-op adds that, “The blockade was set up Monday afternoon by Howard Sam and Wayne Sam, holders of adjoining keyohs, traditional First Nation landholdings.”

The mine was approved by the Harper government the same day that the Prosperity mine at Fish Lake was rejected.

Northword has previously reported that, “The Mount Milligan mine will be located between Fort St. James and Mackenzie on Nak’azdli traditional territory. It will process 60,000 tonnes per day of ore; the total disturbance area is predicted to be more than 18 square kilometres. Included in the project are an onsite explosives factory, a 92-km transmission line and an upgraded access road with 30 stream crossings. In addition to the conversion of the two creeks into TIAs, Terrane Metals has stated they may also draw water from nearby Rainbow Creek, a third fish-bearing waterway. These creeks flow into the Nation River that flows north toward Williston Lake and the Peace River beyond. (Anne Marie Sam, a Nak’azdli band councilor) and other community members are concerned not only about the destruction of fish and wildlife habitat near the mine but also the leaching of poisonous chemicals into the Arctic watershed.”

That article also notes, “In June 2006, Terrane Metals informed the Nak’azdli people they had an exploration permit from the BC government; the Nak’azdli had not been consulted. After receiving BC environmental approval in 2009, the mine underwent a Comprehensive Study Report by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and National Resources Canada (NRCan). DFO determined that the proponent’s mitigation plans were adequate to offset the conversion of fish-bearing Alpine Creek and King Richard Creek into tailing impoundment areas (TIAs) for the mine. The Nak’azdli only heard of the approvals from media reports; they were not informed of the decision by either the federal or BC governments.”

The Globe and Mail adds that, “The roadblock, erected by members of the Nak’azdli Indian Band, is being monitored by the RCMP and the Denver-based Thompson Creek Metals Company, which owns the Mount Milligan project after acquiring Vancouver-based Terrane Metals in October. Thompson Creek has obtained a court injunction against the protesters and plans to deliver copies of it to the blockade site, a company spokeswoman said.”

Although some media reports note that the blockade has not been sanctioned by Nak’azdli band council, the Media Co-op reports that, “Nak’azdli Indian Band Councillors Rosemarie Sam and Charlie Sam joined two dozen other people on the blockade to support the keyoh holders.”

A previous campaign blog on this – UPDATE: Harper fails with Mount Milligan mine – is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5202.

Photos from the blockade are available at http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/5172.

Update at 3 pm ET: HQPrinceGeorge.com reports this hour that, “Three Nak’azdli Band members involved in a blockade at the Mt. Milligan mine site have been arrested by Fort St. James RCMP. North District RCMP spokesman Corporal Dan Moskaluk says although there were arrests, everyone involved in the protest was very cooperative. Moskaluk says the two women and one man have been released from custody on promise to appear in court in February. A spokesperson with the Band says comment will be made once a formal press release is issued.”