British Columbia

Shotgun threat over mine intolerable: Hawes

The B.C. government says it won't tolerate threats of violence from a First Nation community over a proposed copper and gold mine near Williams Lake.

The B.C. government says it won't tolerate threats of violence from a First Nation community over a proposed copper and gold mine near Williams Lake.

The province's Minister of State for Mining, Randy Hawes, said Friday that if the Prosperity mine gets the green light, natives will have to accept the decision.

"Aboriginal communities do not have a veto over land use," said Hawes.

Sources within the Tsilhqot'in Nation have been quoted as saying they would protect their land with firearms if necessary.

The Taseko Mines Ltd. project promises hundreds of jobs for the economically challenged Williams Lake region.

Watershed concerns

But the mine's footprint also will negatively affect wildlife in a local watershed relied on by First Nations in the area, a federal review panel determined.

The company has offered some solutions to the watershed problem, but in a report issued in July, the federal panel questioned the validity of the plan.

The proposed mine's fate is now in the hands of the federal cabinet, which is expected to announce a decision Sept. 10.

The B.C. government concluded in January that while the project would have negative environmental effects, the mine was justified.

Tsilhqot'in Chief Marilyn Baptiste said at least one elder has threatened to show up at the mine with a shotgun if the project is approved.

"What other options do we have?" said Baptiste on Friday.

Hawes said the law is on the province's side in the dispute.

"The courts have been very clear that the final decision on land use in British Columbia does lie with the government," he said.

With files from The Canadian Press and the CBC's Sarah Towle

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