Tsilhqot’in tell junior miner to look elsewhere

Tsilhqot'in First Nation say Amarc Resources does not have its permission to conduct exploration for a potential copper mine.

Amarc's Ike property lies outside the Tsilhqot'in's title area, but within the Dasiqox Tribal Park.
The Tsilhqot’in First Nation is telling the B.C. government and a junior mining company with claims northwest of Goldbridge that its Ike copper property is off limits to exploration.

Amarc Resources Ltd. (TSX-V:AHR) has conducted drilling on its Ike property near Goldbridge, and had received provincial government approval to expand its drilling program.

But the Tsilhqot’in say the company does not have the permission of two tribes in that area – the Xeni Gwet’in and Yunesit’in – and is telling the company to look elsewhere within Tsilhqot’in territory to conduct exploration.

“The consent of the Tsilhqot’in people has not been given for any of Amarc’s activities, proposed or otherwise,” Chief Roger Williams said in a press release.

“We are open to discussions of assessing mineral potential outside of this no go zone with Amarc and Thompson Creek Metals, but we remain strongly opposed to mineral development or exploration within areas that are key to supporting our health and livelihoods.”

Thompson Creek Metals has an agreement with Amarc to acquire up to 30% of the Ike project.

Whether the Tsilhqot’in have the authority to stop the project may become a matter for the courts.

While the Xeni Gwet’in were granted outright title to a portion of traditional territory in 2014 by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Ike project lies outside the actual title territory. It also lies just outside an area to which the court recognized aboriginal rights.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Roger Williams granted aboriginal title to 1,750 square kilometers of land southwest of Williams Lake to the Xeni Gwet’in tribe. It also recognized aboriginal rights to hunt, gather, trap and catch wild horses over an area twice that size. But the Ike project lies just outside the the acknowledged rights area.

According to the Tsilhqot’in, the project lies within its recently declared Dasiqox Tribal Park. Whether that park has any legal status is a question only the courts or senior governments can decide.

A call to Amarc was not returned.