British Columbia

B.C. mine approved over First Nation objections

The federal government has approved development of a copper and gold mine in northern B.C., despite the objections of a local First Nation.

Nakazdli band vows to fight open-pit mine development

The federal government has approved development of a copper and gold mine in northern B.C., despite the objections of a local First Nation.

The open-pit mine would be located near Mount Milligan, about 155 kilometres northwest of Prince George, in an area the Nakazdli First Nation claims is its traditional territory.

Terrane Metals Corp., which plans to develop the mine, projects it will create about 400 jobs and process an estimated 60,000 tonnes of ore a day.

Federal approval was granted Tuesday, but the band has vowed to fight the project.

"The land we go to to survive off, hunting, gathering, berry picking, medicinal plants —  it's everything to us," said Anne Marie Sam, a Nakazdli band councillor. 

"It's our home. We have a right to say what happens in our territory."    

Sam said the Nakazdli are determined to stop the mine.

"The main thing investors should know — and the company and the public — is that as far as the Nakazdli are concerned, this project is not a go," she said.

"We have given Terrane Metals our eviction notice."

Digging could start in 2010

A Terrane Metals spokesman remains optimistic the company will come to an agreement with the band.

"I'm hoping as time goes on that we are able to work with them," vice-president Glen Wonders said.

Wonders said the mine will bring hundreds of jobs to an area decimated by lumber and pulp mill closures. Members of the Nakazdli First Nation stand to benefit from the development, he said.

At least one local politician welcomes the mine.

"There will be jobs," said Stephanie Killam, the mayor of Mackenzie. "We will have new people here. We will have people come up [from southern B.C.].

Terrane Metals has yet to secure full financing for the mine but hopes to start digging in 2010, Wonders said.

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