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Tahltan Elders are protesting a proposed coal mine at the so-called Sacred Headwaters at Mt. Klappan. (Canadian Press)

One day after Mines Minister Bill Bennett held a weekend visit at a First Nations protest site in northwestern B.C., 40 Tahltan members ordered workers at a nearby Fortune Minerals exploration camp to leave the area, considered sacred by aboriginals.

Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee says elders have been at the remote camp on Mount Klappan for six weeks, asking the mining company to respect Tahltan land and rights and reconsider plans for a 40-square kilometre open pit coal mine.

She says protesters stepped up pressure against the proposed Arctos Anthracite project on Sunday after Bennett met with them Saturday night and said he would urge the company not to seek an injunction to remove — and possible arrest— them.

The province recently appointed a mediator to try to resolve the impasse, angering First Nations who said the appointment was worded to sound as if the mediator must ensure the mine goes ahead, but McPhee says Bennett apologized for that wording.