West Moberly First Nations

February 18, 2009 06:00 ET

BC First Nation Puts Coal Company and Investors 'On-Notice'

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 18, 2009) - The West Moberly First Nations (WMFN), in northeast British Columbia, is putting Vancouver-based, privately held junior mining company First Coal Corporation (FCC) 'on notice' that WMFN intends to pursue all available means, including legal action, to protect the "Threatened" Burnt/Pine caribou herd and WMFN members' Treaty and Aboriginal rights and interests.

Also being put on notice is Vancouver-based Ascenta Finance Corporation, a lead financing agent and investor in FCC.

"Current and prospective private investors in FCC may be unaware of FCC's permit violations and the unfolding conflict the company has spurred," says Roland Willson, Chief of the West Moberly First Nations. "These violations call into question their managerial competence. I invite all interested investors to contact me personally, to get our perspective, before making any future decisions of support for this company."

In a December 2008 letter to FCC Victor Koyanagi, a provincial Inspector of Mines, notified FCC that they were "in contravention of The Mines Act and the Health, Safety, and Reclamation Code for Mines in BC." "Without legal authorization, FCC built roads and cleared 17 hectares of known core caribou habitat," Willson explains.

Koyanagi ordered FCC to "cease all mining activities" and notified the company that "failure to comply with (his orders) may result in additional action including cancellation of claim."

"WMFN is asking the province to not approve any further exploratory or extraction permits submitted by FCC for their 'Goodrich Property' until such time as the Crown initiates a meaningful consultation process with WMFN with respect to FCC's activities," says Willson.

In BC's 2009 Budget, Minister of State for mining Gordon Hogg commented that, "Asia-Pacific investors will play a key role in the development and continued prosperity of B.C.'s minerals sector." Says Willson: "unfortunately for Asia-Pacific investors, other investors, and the sector, ongoing disputes generate uncertainty; in FCC's case exacerbated by permit violations."

"Our actions could significantly delay or scuttle FCC's project," says Willson. "But we won't apologize for protecting the caribou, and our rights, for future generations of our people and our Nation. My advice to those who were thinking of betting on First Coal's success is this: look elsewhere."

Contact Information

  • Roland Willson
    Chief, West Moberly First Nations
    Vice-Tribal Chief, Treaty 8 Tribal Association
    Mobile: (250) 783-0733