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Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 04:03:09 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
Subject: Mitsubishi Breaks Ground On New Mine In Cheslatta Nation

/** headlines: 68.0 **/
** Topic: Mitsubishi Breaks Ground On New Mine In Cheslatta Nation **
** Written 8:58 PM Jun 30, 1996 by econet in cdp:headlines **

/* Written 10:51 AM Jun 27, 1996 by ranmedia@ran.org in rainfor.genera */
/* ---------- "Action: Mitsubishi's B.C. pit mine" ---------- */

Mitsubishi profits from Indian woes

Rainforest Action Network—July Action Alert,
30 June 1996

In mid-May, Mitsubishi broke ground on a project that will destroy traditional hunting areas of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation in northern British Columbia. This is business as usual for Mitsubishi, one of the worlds great environmental pariahs. For the Cheslatta people, it is their latest stand for survival against industrys assaults on their beleaguered homeland.

For nearly five decades, large-scale industrial projects have laid waste to Cheslatta Carrier Nation. Commercial logging is ongoing, leaving the territory scarred with thousands of clear-cuts. In 1952, Alcan Aluminum moved onto Cheslatta land, evicting the Indians, burning their villages, and building a hydro-electric reservoir that constantly overflowsobliterating the natural course of Cheslatta River.

Now Mitsubishi Materials is developing a massive open-pit copper and gold mine at Huckleberry Mountain, in partnership with a consortium of Japanese companies, and with B.C.-based Princeton Mining. The Cheslatta Carrier Indians would trap and hunt game on Huckleberry Mountains abundant slopes, gather medicinal herbs from its forests, and fish the nearby watersbut if Mitsubishis plans go unchecked, the mountain will be hauled away by the truck load until nothing is left.

Already, work crews are carving access roads through Cheslatta Nation, and are gearing up to clear-cut more than 1,420-acres of forest to accommodate the mines superstructure. According to official estimates, nearly one hundred million tons each of potentially toxic tailings and waste rock will be dumped onto the landscape once the mine is operational.

Tailings ponds, designed to catch liquid mine wastes, could easily overflow, spilling poisonous sludge into nearby Tahtsa Lakeor worse, heavy metals will leach into the water table, and acid rock drainage (ARD) will contaminate the entire Tahtsa network of waterways. Once the metals have reached the point of saturation, the soil will continue to release toxins into the water for thousands of years. The U.S. Bureau of Mines estimates ARD has poisoned over 12,000 miles of North Americas waterways, and Canadas Federal Government says the cost of cleaning up its current ARD-polluted rivers could exceed $5 billion.

Hungry for foreign investment, the B.C. Government conducted a cursory environmental assessment, giving a thumbs-up to the mine. The Cheslatta rejected the assessment as inadequate, and are taking their case to B.C.s Supreme Court with help from Sierra Legal Defense Fund.

Meanwhile, the Mitsubishi-led consortium threatened to withdraw funding from mining operations across Canada if Huckleberry was held up with federal environmental assessments. Fearing cancellation of the project, B.C. Premier Glen Clark and Canadas Ambassador to Japan, Donald Campbell, urged the Government in Ottawa to approve the project right away.

The message is clear. When foreign underwriting is at stake, quick profits are more important than the environmentor the basic human rights of the Cheslatta people.

The Cheslatta only want what is theirsand they want Mitsubishi and company off of their land. In the words of elder George Louis, keeper of the traditional territories at Huckleberry Mountain: These companies will destroy the land left to us by our ancestors. They will take away our food and medicine plants. What do I want them to do? Stop. Just stop.


Send a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien, telling him to reassess approval of the Huckleberry Mine. His address: House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, KIA 0A6. Postage from the U.S. is 52 cents. Here is a sample letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am horrified to learn that your government is party to the destruction of Cheslatta Carrier Nation in B.C., and fast-tracked the approval of Mitsubishi-funded Huckleberry copper mine. The mine will lay waste to Cheslatta traditional hunting grounds, and may potentially render the entire region uninhabitable. No adequate environmental assessments have been carried out.

I see that large foreign investment is tempting, but be aware that Mitsubishi is one of the worlds great environmental pariahs.

You must do everything in your power to stop this dangerous project, and to uphold the basic rights of the Cheslatta people.