Tahltan Elder Jerry Asp launches mineral exploration and acquisition company to show how to do mining right
In April of 2022, British Columbia announced changes to its mining reclamation security policy, in which all new mines and mines counting less than five years of mineral reserves remaining will have to post a full reclamation security equal to their liability. The policy change includes explicit increases in closure liability calculations relative to the previous policy and related standards. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says Jerry Asp.
Over the past 40 years, Tahltan Elder and former Chief Jerry Asp has led the way for showing how mining is to be done that respects people and our natural world. After being inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (2020) for his work in the inclusion and participation of Indigenous Peoples in mining, Asp has decided to show once more by example. He has created Spirit Rock Resources Corp. (SRR), a British Columbia company, with both Tahltan and non-Tahltan shareholders and leadership, to “do mining right”. “We must work with the land and live with nature.” says Asp. “The salmon stocks are suffering as are the caribou and there are major changes to our environment that I have seen in my lifetime. 50 years ago it was common to see caribou almost anywhere in Tahltan Territory. Today, you really have to look for the caribou, except in the wintertime. The deep snow in the mountains chases them down to the Jackpine flats to search for food. We are not exactly sure why the caribou have declined, but we’ve noticed that when there is too much traffic and equipment noise, the caribou leave the area. By considering these aspects when doing any kind of mining activities, we can drastically minimize the need and cost of reclamation and begin to rebuild our relationship with our natural world.”
SRR aims to implement its exploration projects in partnership with Mother Earth. By using robust data sets to support the understanding, monitoring and enhancing of ecosystems and wildlife populations, with a particular focus on salmon, SRR will integrate this knowledge to inform decisions made from the very beginning of their exploration programs. Salmon – whether it be Sockeye, Coho or Chinook, has been the lifeblood of the Tahltan food system and way of life for thousands of years. SRR Chairman and CEO Jerry Asp remembers growing up fishing for Chinook that would often be massive. “20 years ago, it was common for Tahltans to catch Kings in the 40-to-50-pound range. My cousin David Rattary and my Uncle Gerald caught a salmon that was so big, they put a pole through the gills and carried it home on their shoulders. The salmon’s tail was dragging on the ground. They estimated this to be a 90-pound salmon. It’s been at least 10 years since I’ve caught a salmon over 40 pounds, and for the last 5 years, I’ve tried not to catch any King salmon, because the stocks are so low.”
Over the past few years, Salmon populations have been drastically declining. To better understand the causes and impacts, and the role that climate change is playing on these populations and their habitats, SRR is bringing ‘internet of things’ (iot) monitoring technology to support a traditional knowledge and land-based approach. This technology allows real-time sensor feedback on information that is critical to understanding and allowing for the enhancement of ecosystems. “Traditional knowledge allows us to better understand the interconnected aspects of our ecosystem and the impact things have on each other,” says Asp. IoT technology mimics that natural communication system. It is not going to usurp the role of people getting out onto the land and observing the natural ecosystem but can help to support that way of better understanding our natural world.
SRR is committed to following the Tahltan guidelines and policies for doing business in Tahltan Territory pursuant to their rights and title. The Tahltan have spent nearly 40 years developing robust systems for understanding and working properly with the land and water, to be able to properly monitor, protect and enhance the vital ecosystems and cultural heritage resources. SRR hopes to support this ground-breaking work and work in synergy with the Nation as they continue down the path of asserting self-determination.
“Advancements in technology allow us to now be able to realize real economic value from mineral deposits while at the same time protecting and enhancing vital ecosystems,” says SRR President, Sonia Molodecky. We have developed partnerships with experts in GIS, IoT, ecology, geoscience, and finance to support our approach. “The time is now – we can get it right, and our future depends on doing things the right way. I look forward to the guidance and leadership of the Tahltan Nation to help SRR be a true steward of our Mother Earth and her limitless value to us all.”