West Moberly First Nations files caribou petition with B.C. Supreme Court

West Moberly First Nations wants the B.C. Supreme Court to overrule a government decision that allows mining in caribou habitat.

In September, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources approved a bulk-sample permit to Vancouver-based First Coal Corporation.   On Thursday, the First Nation announced it has filed a petition with the Supreme Court to over-rule that decision.

Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations says the proposed facility sits in Burnt Pine caribou habitat – a region that Willson says has only 11 remaining caribou.

He says Elders and government scientists agree that coal mining in the habitat will have significant adverse effects.

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Willson says Dr. Dale Seip, a Wildlife Ecologist from the Ministry of Forests and Range, has stated that the caribou herd is ‘critically endangered’.

West Moberly does not have a Memorandum of Understanding with First Coal.  So far, the corporation has two MOU’s in the Treaty 8 Territory, including Halfway River First Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band.

President and CEO, Doug Smith, says First Coal has established a caribou and mitigation and monitoring plan with their biological consultants.

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Smith states that the company will be using a mining method called the ADDCAR Any Dip Highwall Mining System.  He says the concept is new, and has less of an environmental impact than traditional drilling.  He says the new system will perform extractions without causing a disruption to caribou in the region.

The mine site is located in Chetwynd.

Smith says First Coal currently has a contract in place to excavate a trench in the area, and work has already begun on that.

It’s unknown when the Supreme Court will make its ruling.

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