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Indigenous bands raise red flags over Princeton’s Copper Mountain merge

The mine has been taken over by Hudbay Minerals, with environmental and economic talks unfinished
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The tailings facility for Copper Mountain Mine is one of several issues raised by local Indigenous bands with the mine prior to its merger with Hudbay Minerals. Now the bands are calling out the mining companies for burning goodwill after talks broke down ahead of the merger. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)

A joint statement from the Upper and Lower Similkameen Indian Bands has called out a “breakdown” during the recent merge of Copper Mountain Mine and Hudbay Minerals.

Their press release, issued on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, called out the merging companies for failing to understand the importance of good relations with Indigenous peoples.

“USIB and LSIB have been frustrated with the mine for years and the relationship has become increasingly strained,” reads the press release.

“Long before the acquisition by Hudbay was announced, both First Nations were already working with CMMC to update existing environmental protections and economic terms. Working together, both USIB and LSIB have pushed for better protection and restoration of land and water, recognition, and mitigation of impacts on culture and rights, and a meaningful share of wealth removed from Similkameen lands — consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”

According to the band’s joint statement, they had been working on talks before the acquisition of Copper Mountain to address long-held environmental concerns, in particular over the mine’s massive tailings facility.

“Our relationship with CMM is strained and trust has always been an issue,” said Chief Keith Crow of the LSIB. “Our focus has always been the impacts to land and water. The Similkameen River is the lifeblood of our valley and cumulative impacts are detrimental to our way of life. If the relationship does not improve with Hudbay, we are prepared for action.”

Following shareholder approvals between the two companies, the merger was completed on June 20, making Hudbay the third largest copper producer in Canada based on their mines across North and South America.

The talks with Copper Mountain broke down ahead of the merger, leading to the bands’ frustration reaching “a boiling point” over what they see as a common disregard for Indigenous concerns.

“A lot of the good faith we had has been burnt,” said Chief Bonnie Jacobsen of the USIB. “Hudbay needs to show that it has changed its disturbing pattern of behavior towards Indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Peru, Arizona, and Manitoba. Hudbay now owns a mine on our lands, and they need to know how much unfinished business they have inherited.”

Hudbay Minerals was contacted for comment but Black Press did not receive a response prior to publication.

READ MORE: Deal for Princeton’s Copper Mountain Mine one step closer to reality

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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