Clash between Coal and Caribou

There is a coal, caribou and consultation clash brewing in northeastern British Columbia between a First Nation and a mining exploration company.

The chief of the West Moberly First Nation near Chetwynd says he wants First Coal Corp., a Vancouver-based coal exploration and development company, to stop work in an area where caribou are at risk.

First coal was dealt a stop-work order from the Inspector of Mines in December but that has been resolved, and the company is anxious to proceed with work they’ve already done in an area where caribou are protected under the federal Species At Risk Act.

Government ministries indicate the work can proceed if there is proper consultation with the West Moberly and other affected First Nations. Consultation and accommodation have become two well-known words among First Nations and resource companies.

Several court rulings, including one from the Supreme Court of Canada that involved the Haida Nation on the Queen Charlotte Islands, make it clear that resource companies – through appropriate government ministries – must consult and accommodate First Nations before undertaking development on their territory.

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