An interesting struggle is playing out in British Columbia’s northeast. On one side is First Coal Corporation, a privately-held, Vancouver-based junior mining company that is taking heat for illegal road building and a whopper of a clear-cut, probably burning through cash as we speak, and desperate to demonstrate some progress on a bulk sample pit that they told investors would be permitted by last summer.

Essentially watching First Coal’s back is the province of British Columbia, whose Energy and Mining officials are eager to see things built, but continue to operate under a mandate that inadequately assesses cumulative environmental impacts and impacts to aboriginal rights.

A problem for the government is that other government officials, at varying degrees of separation from the mining and energy officials, recognize that First Coal’s proposed mine is mutually exclusive with precautionary caribou management.

Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations has stated that “We won’t apologize forprotecting the caribou, and our rights, for future generations of ourpeople and our Nation. My advice to those who were thinking of bettingon First Coal’s success is this: look elsewhere.”

In a recent speech to the the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, Phil Fontaine: the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations referred to Chief Willson’s story as “a cautionary tale worthy of sharing”, essentially because it is these types of conflicts that create uncertainty for business, investors, and the First Nations involved.