Two Tsilhqot’in communities are saying no to further mining exploration by Amarc Resources Ltd. in the headwaters of the Upper Taseko and Dasiqox Tribal Park areas.
“Amarc already drilled 18 holes for their exploration program, and recently received Provincial approval for an additional 50 holes within the claim area for the Ike project,” said Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William. “None of these approvals have received the consent of the Tsilhqot’in. The cumulative effects of these applications and approvals should not be overlooked.”
William said his community and Yunesit’in have told Amarc and the Province that the Upper Taseko is a ‘no go zone’ and have requested high-level discussions about ongoing land-use planning concerns.
The exploration project is in its early stages and does not have any environmental impacts, said Jason Quigley, a spokesperson for Amarc, noting the site is accessed by helicopter.
“We’ve gone to extraordinary efforts to ensure the Tsilhqot’in Nation and other First Nations in the region are consulted and have an opportunity to influence and benefit from the project,” he said. “The drill program is fully permitted and we will go forward with it some time this summer.”
With the exploration project Amarc is drilling for copper, molybdenum, silver and other minerals, Quigley said.
William said members of Xeni Gwet’in and Yunesit’in last met with Amarc in 2014.
“They showed us a proposed agreement, we communicated and talked about it, and at the end of the day in 2015 we informed Amarc of the no-go zone.”
In early 2016, the two communities communicated further to Amarc through the Tsilhqot’in National Government that other Tsilhqot’in communities were interested in exploration in their area, William added.
“This is very much similar to Fish Lake and the New Prosperity Mine proposal. It’s a very sensitive area,” William said.
“The Whitebark Pine in the area is becoming a bit of a concern because it’s important food for grizzlies and it’s been more than 20 years since there’s been any real research done on it.”
William said although only one per cent of drilling projects actually result in a mine being developed, he cannot imagine an open pit mine going into the headwaters of Taseko Lake and the possible impacts the mine would have.
“It was clear when we had meetings with the communities that we were not given the mandate to entertain such a reckless endeavour,” said Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross in a press release.
“These kinds of decisions reaffirm why our communities are pursuing the development of the Dasiqox Tribal Park and why we are turning away from those that will not abide by our vision for the land.”
Amarc’s Ike project is located approximately 25 kilometers as the crow flies from Xeni Gwet’in.
“Last year we flew out by helicopter and checked the area and saw a lot of signs of wildlife,” William said.
Story updated from Friday’s with comments from Amarc