Tahltan calls for suspension of jade production in territory

The Tahltan Nation is demanding that all jade extraction and placer mining operations within its territory be suspended.

Tahltan Central Government president Chad Day made the demand to the provincial ministry of energy, mines, and petroleum resources.

“Jade is an important resource to Tahltan culture and must only be utilized with our consent and in a manner that respects our culture,” said Day in a news release. “Despite this, jade extraction and placer mining has continued in our territory for generations with minimal oversight and no compensation to our people. Present day proponents, and by extension the provincial government, have failed to demonstrate respect for Tahltan culture and the environment and there do not have, nor have they ever had, the social licence to continue operating in our territory.”

Day said there are about 25 companies exploring for or currently extracting jade in Tahltan territory, primarily areas near Dease Lake.

“In light of our concerns, we are asking the provincial government to support our position and work with us to ensure that jade and precious minerals are only extracted from our territory with our consent and in a manner that respects our culture,” he said. “I welcome the opportunity to sit down with the provincial government, jade operators and placer miners to discuss how our concern can be addressed in a responsible and fair manner. Until then, the Tahltan Nation will no longer tolerate the status quo and stand ready to assert Tahltan jurisdiction over our territory through any legal means necessary, including protest and court action.”

The world jade market is estimated at 300 tonnes per year, with three quarters of this originating in B.C. The price of raw jade varies from less than $10 to $100 per kilogram depending on quality and quantity.