B.C. jade miners sue government over Tahltan eviction

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Two B.C. jade miners who were evicted from Tahltan traditional territory in 2020 are suing the B.C. government for wrongful expropriation of their mineral claims and seeking compensation for their losses.

Cassiar Jade Contracting Inc. and Glenpark Enterprises Ltd. have filed a civil claim against the B.C. government for implementing a two-year moratorium on jade mining in northwest B.C. that was extended so many times that, the companies argue, it is tantamount to an expropriation without compensation.

Adding insult to injury, the whole time that the two jade mining companies have been forbidden from making a living from jade mining, they have continued to be charged fees by the government totalling $1 million.

“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,” Cassiar Jade president Tony Ritter said in a news release.

“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.”

The Tahltan First Nation are generally supportive of mining, but have objected to placer and jade mining in their traditional claimed territory.

In 2018, the Tahltan Central Government issued a press release saying it had served notice to the B.C. government that all jade extraction and placer mining in Tahltan territory must cease.

In 2019, Tahltan president Chad Day flew by helicopter into an area where jade miners operate and served them with eviction notices.

“The ‘Eviction Notice’ appeared to be related to TCG concerns about certain jade mining practices that had come to light in a reality television show called “Jade Fever” related to the operations of jade miners other than Cassiar or Glenpark,” the companies’ claim states.

In March, 2020, Tahltan Nation and B.C. government signed a Shared Prosperity Agreement that recognizes Tahltan title and rights, and in May 2020, an order in council was signed that imposed a two-year moratorium on jade placer mining in northern B.C.

The miners’ claim notes that, despite the agreement, the Tahltan’s assertion of aboriginal rights and title to their traditional territory are “unproven.”

The original moratorium was replaced by a second order in council, and then a third that extended the moratorium period. Finally, in May 2023, the third order was amended to extend the ban for an additional year, to May 11, 2024.

The miners argue that that is effectively an expropriation without compensation.

“By its conduct and the OICs, Cassiar’s and Glenpark’s rights, titles, and interests in the Cassiar claims and Glenpark claims were … effectively expropriated,” the claim states.

As a result of the de facto expropriations, the companies say they have suffered “a loss of revenue, the erosion of their global market share which had been successfully built up over 35 years, the loss of customers, loss of livelihood, and other serious economic harms.”

In addition to asking the court for an order of wrongful expropriation, the companies are also seeking compensation.



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