Jade Mining Ban in Northwest BC is Hailed as Reconciliation in Action by Tahltan Nation

First Nation commends the important step for environmental protection and reconciliation.

The Tahltan's fight against the jade mining companies had been ongoing for years. In 2019, a delegation from the nation visited ten different jade and placer sites in their territory and read a letter which states that the companies' operations do not have the consent of the Tahltan people and that they were infringing on the nation's Aboriginal rights and title. Photo credit: Tahltan Central Government on Facebook

The Tahltan Nation is celebrating the announcement of a ban on new jade mining activities on their lands as a significant step for environmental protection and reconciliation. Earlier this month, the provincial government issued an immediate Environment and Land Use Act order that would ban all jade mining in northwestern BC. 

The government released a statement on May 10, 2024, saying that jade mining is “causing harmful effects to sensitive alpine environments and creating significant regulatory challenges for permitting, compliance and enforcement.” It added that this is because much of the mining is remote and only accessible by helicopter. 

The order is intended to address these environmental impacts while still allowing existing tenure holders five more years to mine before closing their operations. This will not impact other mining operations in the region or jade mining elsewhere in the province. 

“This is a clear message to those extracting jade in Tahltan Territory that their old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable and that the right side of history is free, prior, and informed consent.”

Heather Hawkins, acting President of the Tahltan Central Government

In a statement, the Tahltan Nation praised the policy for “demonstrating and honouring the Province’s commitments to reconciliation and the environment.” They highlighted the harmful processes involved in jade extraction, a “quasi-unregulated” industry done only for a year with minimal seasonal workers.

Tahltan traditional territory in red shows where the BC government has implemented an immediate Environment and Land Use Act order. This order bans jade mining on new tenures within Tahltan Territory. Photo credit: Terrace Standard

“It extracts millions of dollars of resources from Tahltan Territory and the Province of BC with zero benefits going to the Tahltan Nation and negative benefits to the Province of BC.”

Tahltan Nation

“This is a clear message to those extracting jade in Tahltan Territory that their old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable and that the right side of history is free, prior, and informed consent,” said Heather Hawkins, acting President of the Tahltan Central Government, in the release.

“It extracts millions of dollars of resources from Tahltan Territory and the Province of BC with zero benefits going to the Tahltan Nation and negative benefits to the Province of BC,” the Nation said in the release. They commented that jade mining costs taxpayers more than the revenue it generates, in addition to the environmental costs that are an untold financial burden for future generations. 

“Determining the future of jade extraction requires thoughtful consideration of its historical performance, challenges, benefits, risks, and evaluating the feasibility of adopting a fresh approach rooted in reconciliation,” read the Tahltan statement.

The Tahltan Nation’s Territory covers 95,933 square kilometres of northwest BC and accounts for 70% of “The Golden Triangle” – the province’s primary mining jurisdiction in the Stikine terrane that produces billions yearly in revenue. 

A report released earlier this year found that mining in The Golden Triangle costs Canadian taxpayers more than $500 million a year in tax breaks. The investigation, published by US-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), found that tax incentives were used to leverage large investments in a system that reflects “structural and operational attributes of a Ponzi scheme.”

Written by The Skeena

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