The Tahltan First Nation is ramping up its opposition to a copper-gold exploration project in their traditional territory, and are effectively issuing an eviction notice to the company behind it.
The Tahltan say they are opposed to Doubleview Gold Corp. (TSXV:DBG, OTC PINK: DBLVF) and its Hat project and want its operations to cease.
Recent assay results published by the company indicate the Hat project -- located in the Sheslay Valley, 95 kilometres southwest of Dease Lake -- has not only gold and copper, but some recoverable cobalt as well. Cobalt is increasingly in demand in electric car batteries.
The Tahltan’s opposition to the exploration project is unusual. The Tahltan are arguably the most mining friendly First Nation in B.C. They support and have agreements with a number of mining companies and projects. They even co-own the drilling company that worked on the Hat property.
But the Tahltan have drawn a line in the sand with Doubleview and the Hat project, saying the project is in a culturally sensitive area and that the company has been disrespectful and has failed to follow the protocols the Tahltan sets out for resource companies.
“Tahltans take pride in working meaningfully with industry partners and the province,” Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government, said in a press release. “But this company has continually been disrespectful and resistant to following the protocols and processes we have in place with mineral exploration companies throughout Tahltan Territory.
“We will be taking all actions necessary to protect our land and resources, including keeping Doubleview from pursuing their interests in our territory any further.”
The Tahltan Central Government has an engagement framework that sets out protocols for resource companies operating in Tahltan territory.
“Doubleview has failed to conduct its operations according to Tahltan protocols and refuses to abide by the TCG’s engagement framework,” the Tahltan say in their press release.
“As a result, the Tahltan Nation will adamantly oppose Doubleview’s continued operations within Tahltan Territory and will take further steps to ensure the company’s activities will cease.”
Doubleview has not yet responded to the Tahltan's position.
In 2015, Doubleview claimed the Tahltan had blockaded drilling operations, and tried, but failed, to get an injunction against the Tahltan.
Doubleview tried to obtain an injunction against the Tahltan after Day and Tahltan elders flew in by helicopter to the site to speak to the company’s CEO in 2015. Day also spoke to the drilling crew, some of whom are Tahltan members who work for Tahltan Drilling, a partnership between the Tahltan Development Corp. and Geotech Drilling Services Ltd.
After Day visited the site, and spoke with the crew, the drilling crew ceased all work. Doubleview characterized the visit by the Tahltan as a blockade and sought an injunction against any further interference with its work.
But in 2016, the BC Supreme Court dismissed the Doubleview’s request for an injunction, saying the Tahltan had not blockaded the site. The court even questioned the validity of Doubelview's permit, saying that there were certain conditions attached to it -- conducting an archaeological study, for example -- that may not have been met.
The court noted, “the drilling was shut down because the drillers refused to participate further. None of the defendants physically obstructed access to the drill.
“There was no blockade in a physical sense, as that term is generally understood. No driller was physically obstructed from access to the drills. The defendants appear to have relied entirely on moral suasion to achieve their desired outcome.”
Doubleview’s application for an injunction was dismissed.
The Tahltan say they expect the provincial government will not be issuing any more permits to Doubleview for its Hat project.
"This should serve as notice that the Tahltan Nation will not tolerate any company that attempts to operate within Tahltan Territory if they fail to build a respectful relationship with the Tahltan governments and communities through respecting Tahltan laws, protocols and the distinct title and rights of the Tahltan people," the TCG concludes in its press release.