Imperial Metals granted interim injunction, Red Chris protesters celebrate

A B.C. mining company has been granted a temporary injunction against a group of First Nations who have been blocking access to a mining project south of Dease Lake, but protesters are claiming victory for themselves.

Temporary injunction granted but interlocutory injunction and enforcement order weren't

A group calling itself the Klabona Keepers celebrates a B.C. Supreme Court justice's decision on Oct. 8, 2014, not to grant a permanent injunction against the Red Chris mine protesters to Imperial Metals. (James Leder/Klabona Keepers Facebook)

A B.C. mining company has been granted a temporary injunction against a group of First Nations who have been blocking access to a mining project south of Dease Lake, but protesters are claiming victory for themselves.

A group calling itself the Klabona Keepers began blockading the road into the Red Chris mine development in mid-August.

The group of Tahltan elders said they were worried about the possible impacts of the gold and copper project on their community after the tailings pond at another mine site run by the same company failed this summer.

When the earthen wall of the Mount Polley tailings pond failed on Aug. 4, 25 million cubic metres of water and waste spilled into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.

The company, Imperial Metals, asked the courts for an injunction to force the group to stop its protest.

On Wednesday, the courts agreed, but ruled the injunction would be only temporary and that it couldn't be enforced until Oct. 14.

Rhoda Quock, spokeswoman for the Klabona Keepers, called it an incredible victory, not only for those blockading, but for all indigenous nations facing similar situations.

"Everyone's just very happy, even though we still have to go to court yet, but it's still a win," she said. "The enforcement order wasn't granted. Before, when companies do that, they get granted the injunction and the enforcement order."

The court also ordered that the case must now be heard in Terrace, which will allow elders and youth to attend and prepare for the hearing, Quock said.

Imperial Metals declares a win

No one from Imperial Metals could be reached for comment Wednesday but, on Thursday, vice president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson told CBC News that his company also felt the court's decision was a victory — for Imperial Metals.

"I think the fact that we got the injunction alone is pretty much a win for us," he said. "We've established that we need to be able to get access to our mine so the courts agreed with us and they want to be able to clear the way for that."

Google Maps: Approximate centre of Red Chris mine property

With files from the CBC's Stephanie Mercier

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