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Northern BC jade miners sue province

North of 60 Mining News - March 26, 2024

George Dean; Creative Commons 3.0

Lying alongside Highway 37 in Northern British Columbia, The Cassiar Mountain Jade Store sells jade mined from deposits in the area.

Cassiar Jade and Glenpark seek reparations for financial losses due to being evicted from mining claims by Tahltan Nation, BC government.

A pair of jade miners are taking British Columbia to court over monetary damages related to being evicted from their mining claims within the territory of the Tahltan First Nation in Northern B.C.

In 2020, the B.C. government issued several orders under the provincial Environment and Land Use Act that sterilized and prohibited further exploration on several mineral claims held by Cassiar Jade Contracting Inc. and Glenpark Enterprises Ltd.

The jade mining companies filed a lawsuit with the B.C. Supreme Court alleging that the provincial government has seized the companies' interests, harmed their businesses, and caused significant financial loss.

"It is incredibly frustrating to have to sue our own government, after 35 years of being a pioneer in this industry and building a global market," said Cassiar Jade President Tony Ritter. "I have dedicated my life to this industry and have an unblemished environmental record, so to be shut down for four years and counting is just devastating to me and the many people who worked for me."

BC, First Nation eviction

The Environment and Land Use Act orders issued by the B.C. government followed a push by the Tahltan Nation to curb jade and placer gold mining in its territory.

In 2020, Tahltan Central Government President Chad Day sent a letter to B.C. officials demanding the provincial government take immediate steps to shut down jade and placer gold mining activities across the Tahltan Nation's 95,933-square-kilometer (37,040 square miles) territory.

"The jade and placer industry in its current form has no place in Tahltan Territory or British Columbia," Day said in 2021. "The ongoing degradation of our wildlife, fisheries, and wilderness in exchange for minimal benefits flowing back to the province or the Tahltan Nation is illegal, disrespectful, and shameful on so many levels, to both Tahltans and British Columbians."

Day also flew into Cassiar Jade's site to personally deliver an eviction notice to Cassiar Jade.

Cassiar Jade and Glenpark said they were caught off guard by the Tahltan Nation's eviction notice and the BC provincial actions that followed.

"We always had good relationships with our Indigenous friends and neighbors, and did not see this coming," said Glenpark President Kristin Rosequist. "So, if this is the government's approach to reconciliation, then it is going to lose a lot of investment in BC."

Ending Jade Fever

Cassiar Jade and Glenpark were not the only targets of the Tahltan Central Government's push to curb jade mining in its territory.

At the same time, the Tahltan Nation demanded that the Discovery Channel suspend airing "Jade Fever," a reality TV show based on jade mining in Northern B.C.

Launched on Discovery Channel Canada in 2015, Jade Fever followed a family-run mining operation that extracts jade from placer and hard rock deposits in the Cassiar Mountains and Turnagain River basin of Northern B.C.

Tahltan Central Government said Jade Fever failed to demonstrate any consideration of the mining's impacts to Tahltan rights and title or depict responsible environmental stewardship, which is part of a larger issue for the Tahltan Nation.

"Jade is also an important resource to Tahltan culture, and yet the province allows others to come into our territory without our consent to extract millions of dollars worth of jade each year, with zero compensation and a huge environmental mess that hurts us all as British Columbians," said Day.

The final season of Jade Fever aired in 2021.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Author photo

Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.

 

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