The Sheslay area, located in northwestern British Columbia, is one of the most promising grassroots mineral exploration areas in Canada, and this highly prospective area has been explored for many years by a number of companies. Several junior exploration companies have found significant mineral occurrences in the area. These exploration companies hold mineral tenure in good standing and some have been issued Notices of Work permits for their programs in the Sheslay area from the Ministry of Energy and Mines following due process with the Tahltan Nation. The exploration companies active in the area have been successfully raising capital to continue or commence their programs.
In July, representatives of the Tahltan Central Council served notice to exploration companies in the Sheslay area to remove their exploration equipment and cease activities. These exploration companies urgently need, and have the right, to complete their low-impact and fully permitted exploration programs this season in order to comply with tenure regulations and/or critically important financing requirements.
What’s really happening
The exploration activity in the Sheslay is within the completed Atlin-Taku Land Use Plan area. AME has long supported the land use planning process as a means to balance land use values, achieve certainty and build investor confidence. The Sheslay area was subject to a detailed land management planning process for a number of years, reaching approval in 2011. The completed land use plan identified much of the Sheslay area as being open to mineral exploration and development, subject to the laws and regulations of the Province of British Columbia.
It is our understanding that the companies active in the Sheslay area were in compliance with their Notice of Work permit conditions. In addition, these companies were employing Tahltan companies and people. The cessation of exploration activity has directly affected not only the junior companies, but also their employees (some of whom are Tahltan Nation members) and shareholders. The reputation of BC as a good place to invest is at stake, especially in an area where a land management plan was recently completed.
What action AME is taking
AME has met with many of the individuals involved, including company management, senior government officials and Tahltan members. Many of the meetings were held individually, but we also convened a meeting that included representatives from the three most affected companies.
In August, AME submitted a letter to the Government of British Columbia outlining our urgent request for it to take actions to resolve the situation. Specifically, we are strongly requesting that both the Tahltan Central Council and the BC Government undertake meaningful and urgent steps and actions as representative leaders to continue their discussions. The exploration companies should be provided a fair and reasonable opportunity to properly complete their limited and low-impact exploration programs, in compliance with their Notice of Work permits that were issued by the BC Government following due process with the Tahltan Nation.
The situation for these exploration companies is extremely serious, and the consequences of the stop work actions taken by the Tahltan Central Council are very damaging for the companies and their employees, contractors and shareholders
Action that you or your organization can take
AME members can take action by informing their local MLAs of the situation, and urging them to assist the BC Government in finding a lasting solution to the situation.