RAVEN - Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs

Olympics Aren’t the Only Games Being Played for Gold in BC

Investors not being given the facts about mining investment risks 

VANCOUVER, Feb. 10 /CNW Telbec/ – As the media spotlight shines on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, a government-industry promotion is hiding the risks of investing in BC’s mining industry, First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining warned today. 

“Crucial facts are being hidden and the global media attention generated by the Olympics is being used to send a false message that BC is a sure gold medal bet for mining investors,” said FNWARM member Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation

“After a 13-year new-mine drought fuelled by major court rulings on First Nations rights in BC, there now appears to be a campaign to pretend the legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations no longer exists,” added Nak’azdli First Nation councillor Anne Sam. 

The message is so one-sided that FNWARM members this week filed a BC Press Council complaint against the Vancouver Sun regarding recent articles that omitted known key facts to leave the impression that the provincial government’s star mining projects no longer face serious obstacles and will create a huge revenue bonanza. 

In fact they face a number of serious obstacles. 

FNWARM is a group of First Nations women leaders from northern BC with a shared goal of promoting responsible mining that respects First Nations rights and cultures and the environment. Their goals include reform of the free-entry access system and environmental assessment review processes to reduce areas of conflict and uncertainty. 

“We all face serious attempts to force mining projects on us,” said former Lake Babine First Nations Chief Betty Patrick. “We want to work with government and companies to find responsible and respectful solutions to mining impasses in BC, but we are repeatedly faced with attempts to bulldozer us into submission.” 

Soda Creek Chief Bev Sellars said: “We are shocked by the extent of the steps now being taken to push ahead with mine projects on Xeni Gwet’in and Nak’azdli First Nation traditional lands.” 
The respective projects are Taseko Mines Ltd’s Prosperity gold mine and Terrane Metals’ proposed low grade gold/copper Mt. Milligan mine – which are being heavily promoted by the provincial government and media as the vanguard of a new BC mining boom. 

Both are threatening to start land clearing and road building in a matter of weeks, even though their projects could be halted by reviews or legal challenges that will take months or longer to complete. 

FNWARM hopes to balance the mining hype by providing investors with facts that they have a right to know in order to make informed decisions. For example:

– The future cannot be guaranteed for projects that proceed against First Nations objections on their traditional lands, which cover the
entire province.- The vast majority of BC First Nations have never signed treaties or ceded any territory or resources;

– The courts have repeatedly established that – pending resolution of their title and rights – these First Nations must be consulted and
accommodated;

– Taseko’s proposed Prosperity mine – which would turn an important pristine lake into a toxic tailing pond – still faces a federal
environment review. Its future is also entangled in two major court cases involving First Nations rights;

– Terrane Metals’ proposed Mt. Milligan Mine is still in the courts defending against legal challenges to its provincial and federal
environmental assessment approvals. A provincial hearing is scheduled for March. An application for a federal judicial review was filed in
early January – one day before mining giant Goldcorp declined to partner on the mine;

– Any money spent on premature work on the mines will be at the companies’ own financial risk, and they will be accountable for
environmental destruction should the projects be stopped.

For further information:
Media inquiries: Anne Marie Sam – (011) 250-649-8284, anne.sam@telus.net

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