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Exploration permit for B.C. mine rejected based on Tahltan objections

Tahltan First Nation rejected the Latham copper-gold exploration project north of Red Chris mine
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The Latham copper-gold claim is in an area the Tahltan say is culturally sensitive.

The B.C. government has rejected an application for an exploration permit for a copper-gold deposit in the Golden Triangle of Northwestern B.C, according to the Tahltan First Nation, which objected to the permit being issued.

The permit in question was for the Torr Metals Inc. (TSX-V:TMET) Latham copper-gold claim in Northwestern B.C., north of the Red Chris mine.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation confirmed to BIV News that the permit has been denied.

"The decision maker conducted a comprehensive review of the application, which included a number of different factors, including the potential impacts on Tahltan interests," the ministry said in a statement. "After careful consideration, the application was rejected."

In a news release, the Tahltan Central Government ("TCG"), Iskut Band, and Tahltan Band say they acknowledge the decision by the province to deny the permit, based on the Tahltan’s objections.

The Tahltan are generally supportive of mining, and in fact have their own business interests in mining, but objected to the Latham project because it is in an area of Gnat Pass that the nation considers to be culturally sensitive.

“The province's decision to reject Torr's permit application follows on the heels of a Tahltan decision that also rejected the project,” the Tahltan Central Government said in its news release.

“Tahltan Nation considers the province's decision to be consistent with Tahltan opposition to Torr's proposed project and supportive of Tahltan Nation's exercise of its inherent jurisdiction over all lands and waters in Tahltan Territory.

“While this decision is a victory for Tahltan Nation, much remains to be done. Nearly 24,000 coal, mineral, and placer claims have been issued historically in Tahltan territory by the province without Tahltan consent. This raises serious concerns about the outdated approach to mineral tenure staking under the province's deeply colonial Mineral Tenure Act.”

“As Canadian law moves towards the standard of free, prior, and informed consent, as recognized by British Columbia's enactment of DRIPA (Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act), Tahltan Nation expects that the province will take steps to ensure that mining companies are not granted any further permits or interests within Tahltan Territory without Tahltan consent.”

Torr Metals did not respond to a request for comment from BIV News. The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) issued a statement regarding the decision to reject the permit.

"Indigenous participation is central to successful mineral exploration in British Columbia," Keerit Jutla, the AME's new CEO, said in a statement to BIV News.

"At AME, we encourage our members to engage early and often with Indigenous nations when exploration is proposed on their traditional territory. AME continues to act as strong advocates for the mineral exploration industry in modernization processes that respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples while maintaining the objectives of shared benefit from unlocking the minerals and metals necessary for everyday life."

nbennett@biv.com

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