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NEWS: Nak’azdli blockade against Mount Milligan mine

The CBC reports, “Since Wednesday, 14 protesters from the Nak’azdli Band have blocked Highway 27 at Necoslie Road over safety concerns with industrial traffic. Highway 27 is the only highway through Fort St. James and the only route to logging sites and construction at the Mount Milligan mine. …Thursday morning, Nak’azdli Chief Fred Sam said the protesters are ‘traditional stewards of the land’, acting without the band’s blessing. …In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the Nak’azdli chief and council clarified the protesters’ position, saying they understand their frustration. …Jocelyn Fraser, of Thompson Creek Metals, said the blockade has stopped 10 trucks from delivering construction materials to the billion-dollar Mount Milligan mine site. The federal government approved development of the open-pit copper and gold mine in December 2010, despite the objections of the Nak’azdli Indian Band, which vowed to fight the project.”

Northword has reported, “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.”