Wet'suwet'en First Nation Issues Stop Work Order Against Huckleberry Mines
Wet'suwet'en First Nation Issues Stop Work Order Against Huckleberry Mines
WET'SUWET'EN TERRITORY, BROMAN LAKE, BC, May 1, 2013 /CNW/ - The Wet'suwet'en First Nation formally notified international mining company shareholders today that it plans to use all legal means at its disposal to halt a $455 million expansion of the Huckleberry Mines Ltd. operation in northern BC.
Despite negotiations that have dragged on for more than a year with the mine's owners (Imperial Metals Corporation and a Japanese consortium consisting of Mitsubishi, Marubeni, Furukawa and Dowa), not a single job has materialized for Wet'suwet'en members nor a single contract for Wet'suwet'en businesses.
"We have a clear mandate from our membership to stop this project until our concerns are addressed," said Chief Karen Ogen, "and that is what we plan to do with every legal tool at our disposal. Huckleberry's policy appears to be talk and mine. We have been in negotiations for more than a year and Huckleberry Mines does not wish to conclude agreements that fairly and reasonably address Wet'suwet'en asserted aboriginal rights, title, community interests and concerns".
The Wet'suwet'en First Nation has ordered Huckleberry Mines Ltd. (Huckleberry) to stop expansion of its copper/molybdenum mine within Wet'suwet'en territory until the company has addressed outstanding issues of employment, training and economic benefits.
While expansion of the open-pit mine is creating $455 million in economic activity and 70 new jobs, none of that is directly benefiting Wet'suwet'en First Nation.
Over 15 months have elapsed since the mining expansion was approved without any prior consultation with the Wet'suwet'en. Huckleberry Mines has failed to satisfactorily address numerous issues including:
-- The power transmission line to the mine illegally crosses I.R. No. 7, -- The gravel forest access road crossing I.R. No. 7 is used illegally for mining purposes, -- The non-existent employment and training opportunities for qualified Wet'suwet'en (not a single Wet'suwet'en member is employed at the mine), -- The non-existent contracting opportunities for qualified Wet'suwet'en businesses, and -- The minimal benefits to the Wet'suwet'en community. "Wet'suwet'en First Nation will stand its ground so that the outcome will benefit our community and members", said Chief Ogen. "We will no longer be bystanders in our own territory. It is important to note that Wet'suwet'en First Nation has strong working relationships and win/win agreements with other companies, for example Hunter Dickinson Inc. and Apache Corporation." "The mining industry, which ironically is in the midst of celebrating BC Mining Week, needs to step up to the plate and start taking the concerns of our community more seriously," Ogen said. At a recent community meeting Wet'suwet'en members unanimously condemned the actions of Huckleberry Mines and passed the attached declaration calling for a stop to the mine expansion until Wet'suwet'en concerns are addressed. BACKGROUNDER, WET'SUWET'EN HUCKLEBERRY STOP WORK DECLARATION, AND MAP: Please refer to attached. WEBSITE: http://wetsuwetenfirstnation.ca/ BACKGROUNDER ON HUCKLEBERRY MINE EXPANSION Huckleberry Mine is an open pit copper/molybdenum mine located 123 km southwest of Houston, BC within Wet'suwet'en Territory. A gravel forest access road as well as a power transmission line cross Felix George Indian Reserve No. 7 located near Owen Lake, BC. On December 30(th), 2011, the BC Government approved permit amendments to expand the Huckleberry Mine and extend its life to 2021. On January 3(rd) , 2012, the board of directors of Huckleberry Mines Ltd. announced formal approval of the mine expansion. According to Imperial Metals (50% interest holder), the mine expansion project will: 1. Preserve 230 full time and 30 contract positions on site. 2. Create about 70 new well-paid positions. 3. Result in expenditures of approximately $455 million over the life
of the project. 4. Produce an estimated 424 million pounds of copper.
In stark contrast to the collaborative approach by industry, government and First Nations on the Pacific Trail Pipeline Project, the Wet'suwet'en were not consulted by British Columbia or Huckleberry Mines Ltd. before the Huckleberry Mine expansion was approved.
Following the mine expansion announcement, Wet'suwet'en First Nation contacted Huckleberry and British Columbia with the goal of collaboratively identifying and resolving all outstanding issues related to the mine expansion.
After a year of discussions and negotiations, during which Wet'suwet'en allowed the mine expansion to proceed, it has become clear that Huckleberry has no interest in concluding agreements that fairly and reasonably address Wet'suwet'en aboriginal rights, title, community interests and concerns.
Over 15 months have elapsed since the mining expansion was approved and Huckleberry has failed to satisfactorily address numerous issues including:
-- The power transmission line to the mine that illegally crosses I.R. No. 7, -- The gravel forest access road crossing I.R. No. 7 that is being used illegally for mining purposes, -- The lack of employment and training opportunities for qualified Wet'suwet'en members (not one Wet'suwet'en member is employed at the mine), -- The lack of contracting opportunities for qualified Wet'suwet'en businesses, and -- The minimal benefits to the Wet'suwet'en Community. Huckleberry Mines' positional, minimalist, "one size fits all First Nations" approach does not reflect the significant scope or nature of Wet'suwet'en's aboriginal rights, title and community interests on-reserve and throughout the Territory, nor does it reflect the significant scale of the mining project - 260 existing jobs, expenditures of $455 million dollars, and 70 new jobs. The Wet'suwet'en are not prepared to stand by while Wet'suwet'en aboriginal rights, title, community interests and concerns are flagrantly disregarded by Huckleberry Mines. The "talk and mine" approach to negotiations is unacceptable. The Wet'suwet'en expect something more than token recognition of our interests. We expect positive and respectful relationships and agreements like those we have with other companies, such as Hunter Dickinson Inc. and Apache Corporation. These agreements are critical at a time when the federal government continues to reduce programs and services. On April 18, 2013, Wet'suwet'en members reviewed the actions of Huckleberry Mines and unanimously condemned them. The Wet'suwet'en Chief and Council were instructed by their members to take whatever action is necessary, including direct action and legal action, to stop further mine expansion, protect Wet'suwet'en aboriginal rights, title and community interests and to ensure all concerns related to the Huckleberry mine expansion are resolved in the best interests of Wet'suwet'en First Nation and its members. ********************** May 1 2013 WET'SUWET'EN HUCKLEBERRY STOP WORK DECLARATION WHEREAS: A. Wet'suwet'en First Nation asserts aboriginal rights, title and significant community interests throughout Wet'suwet'en Territory. B. Huckleberry Mines is located within Wet'suwet'en Territory. C. On December 30(th), 2011, British Columbia approved the Huckleberry Mine expansion without any prior consultation with Wet'suwet'en First Nation. D. On January 3(rd), 2012 Huckleberry Mines Ltd. board of directors formerly approved the mine expansion without any prior contact with Wet'suwet'en First Nation. E. The Huckleberry Mine expansion is of significant concern to Wet'suwet'en First Nation. Concerns, include but are not limited to: -- The power transmission line to the mine illegally crosses I.R. No. 7, -- The gravel forest access road crossing I.R. No. 7 is used illegally for mining purposes, -- Employment and training opportunities for qualified Wet'suwet'en members are non-existent (Not a single Wet'suwet'en member is employed at the mine), -- Contracting opportunities for qualified Wet'suwet'en businesses are non-existent, and -- Wet'suwet'en community improvement benefits are minimal. F. After 15 months of discussions and negotiations, it has become clear that Huckleberry Mines Ltd. does not wish to reach a fair and reasonable resolution of Wet'suwet'en First Nation's legitimate concerns. BE IT RESOLVED TO: -- Call on the Wet'suwet'en Chief and Council to order a stop to further expansion of the Huckleberry Mine until Wet'suwet'en concerns regarding the mine expansion are resolved to Wet'suwet'sen's satisfaction. -- Authorize and direct Wet'suwet'en Chief and Council to take all steps necessary, including direct action and legal action, to protect asserted aboriginal rights and community interests of Wet'suwet'en First Nation and its members in relation to the Huckleberry Mine expansion. Passed unanimously on April 18 2013 at a duly convened meeting of Wet'suwet'en community members. Chief Karen Ogen: 1-250-698-7307 or 1-250-251-2240 PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2013/05/01/20130501_C2247_DOC_EN_26210.pdf SOURCE: Wet'suwet'en First Nation To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2013/01/c2247.html CO: Wet'suwet'en First Nation ST: British Columbia NI: MNG OIL LAW VERDICTS LAWVIEWS -0- May/01/2013 12:00 GMT