The Company has to date and intends to in the future operate in a manner that is respectful of the land, waterways and wildlife, the Tahltan First Nation upon whose traditional territories the Tatogga property is located, and the routines and traditional usages of the land by individual members of the Tahltan First Nation.
The Tahltan First Nation has millenia of history extracting and trading the resources of the land, including high-quality obsidian from the Mount Edziza volcanic complex west of the Tatogga property, which was mined and valued in ancient times for the manufacture of cutting tools and arrowheads. Obsidian from Mount Edziza has found its way into the archaeological record across North America, and the Tahltan are proud of this fact.
It is therefore not surprising that the Tahltan Nation is, broadly speaking, welcoming of inward investment into the mineral exploration and development sector within those areas of its traditional lands that fall outside parks, are not immediately proximal to communities, and that have not been deemed environmentally sensitive or spiritually significant. In practice, this means that very large areas of the most prospective geological real estate within their Traditional Territories remain open to mineral exploration.
The Tahltan Central Government has recognized the need to create strong local institutions. Fundamental to this effort is building economic capability and generating the wealth needed to drive the system. As evidence of the importance it places on the resource sector in particular, the Tahltan Central Government also annually produces the Tahltan Industry Newsletter, in which companies active in the region are individually highlighted and profiled in an attractive format.
Meetings with the leadership of the three principal Tahltan communities of Dease Lake, Iskut, and Telegraph Creek, as well as the Tahltan Central Government and Tahltan National Development Corporation, occur in the spring and fall of each year in Dease Lake, prior to and post each season’s exploration, and at other times and in other locations as may be desirable. These meetings are intended to keep the Tahltan community and leadership well informed of the Company’s plans and the results of its exploration activities. The Company also annually signs a Communications Agreement with the Tahltan Nation, which supports open dialogue and information sharing with respect to the Company’s exploration programs on Tahltan Traditional Territory.
The Company continues to place great emphasis on the training and employment of members of the Tahltan community and the channeling wherever possible of business opportunities toward Tahltan-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, where goods and services are available in a timely manner and on competitive terms. The Company also strongly encourages and actively assists its non-Tahltan vendors with the hiring of Tahltan personnel across a broad spectrum of occupations.
In consequence of our emphasis on locally-based training and employment, the Company’s summer exploration efforts have a high degree of Tahltan involvement. This includes personnel active in camp construction and operations, drill pad construction, drilling operations, and miscellaneous field services such as environmental and archaeological sampling, expediting, soil sampling, prospecting, core cutting, reclamation, line cutting and geotech work. In all, Tahltan employees accounted for an average estimated +26% of the workforce at Tatogga.
In past years, the Company has also been actively supporting a range of community events, including hockey teams and tournaments, Christmas parties, and a Tahltan Youth Council initiative called Teni Mehodihi (Trail That We Know) which, among other activities, maintains the historical trail between Iskut and Telegraph Creek, and helps Tahtlan students learn about exploration, geology, and the flora and fauna of the Tzasia Valley which the Saddle prospect occupies. Related to this, the Company is also supporting a collaborative research project, organized by a Tahltan UBC mining engineering student and involving UBC, NSERC and several other Tahltan youth, to assess the potential of medicinal plants naturally occurring on the Saddle target area for their potential to serve as vectors to metal deposits.
In concert with the foregoing activities and initiatives, the Company has moved to proactively address matters of concern to the community. Working with the Chief Gold Commissioner for the Province of British Columbia, in 2017 the Company initiated, supported the establishment, and donated lands toward the creation of a ‘No Registration Reserve’ over more than 844 hectares of valley bottom lands adjacent to the village of Iskut, thereby creating an enhanced, permanent buffer zone around the Iskut reserve and village.
Working with Rescan Tahltan Environmental Consultants (RTEC), the Company prepared a mountain ungulates management plan, which developed flight plans to ensure helicopter traffic to the Saddle target area avoids where possible disturbances to mountain sheep and goats, and remains well away from Iskut village. RTEC also delivered an initial archaeological assessment of the Company’s exploration sites. Initial water quality sampling and fish barrier surveys were completed over areas seeing exploration activity.
GT Gold is focused on working with respect and responsibility for the manner in which we explore the land and build the relationships with the communities in which we operate. We hope that together, through effective communication and partnerships, we can advance the Tatogga project, navigate the changes that this may bring, learn from one another, and create lasting benefits and opportunities for the people of Iskut and for the Tahltan Nation.