BRITISH COLUMBIA – Protests have plagued the Arctos coal project 165 km northeast of Stewart since August. Now owner Fortune Minerals of London, ON, is taking the unusual step of voluntarily cutting its summer field program short and withdrawing from the project site for several months.
The protesters, representing the Tahltan people, have been camping out at the Arctos drill site. They have blockaded roads to the camp and access to drilling equipment. They have reportedly gone so far as to dare Fortune to have them arrested or forcibly removed.
The Arctos project, formerly known at Mount Klappan after a nearby peak, sits in the area of three wild salmon rivers. The Tahltan people claim it as a place of profound ecological and cultural importance.
The Tahltan and the province were already in negotiations concerning the project when the BC government appointed a mediator to resolve the dispute. The Tahltan people have severely criticized this move because the news release announcing the appointment was "ill-advised, poorly worded and insulting." The press release states that the purpose of the mediator is to "allow the Arctos project to proceed".
"It is our sincere hope that this show of good faith by Fortune will help bring resolution to issues at and near our Arctos project site including any protests," said president an CEO Robin Goad. "While the company has made the decision to give the time and space needed for discussions, there is still a full commitment on the part of both Fortune and its partner to move forward with the environmental assessment and the project".
Fortune has conducted a "limited amount" of drilling intended to gather geochemical and geotechnical data for the environmental assessment. All the necessary permits from the provincial government are in place.
More information is available at FortuneMinerals.com.