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B.C. announces one-year coal rights deferral deal in Sacred Headwaters area

VICTORIA - The granting of new coal mining rights has been frozen in for a year in the Klappan, an area of northwest B.C. considered sacred by the Tahltan First Nation.

The native group says the B.C. government and the Tahltan Central Council have a deal that stops the granting of new coal mining rights to allow more time to reach an agreement on the future of the area.

Tahltan council president Annita McPhee says the deferral order covers 225,000 hectares of the area near the confluence of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers, known as Sacred Headwaters for the rich salmon-bearing waters and its cultural and spiritual significance.

She says the deferral impacts 62 coal licence applications, but existing coal tenures and authorizations, including the Fortune Minerals' Arctos project are not impacted.

Last fall, London, Ont., Fortune Minerals announced it was pausing exploratory work for an open-pit coal mine in the Klappan, following an earlier decision by Shell Canada to give up its rights to explore and drill for coal-bed methane gas.

Those decisions follow several protests, including a blockade, by members of the Tahltan First Nation in the area about 400 kilometres north of Smithers, B.C.

The Canadian Press

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