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The B.C. government has placed a temporary hold on coal exploration permits in the Klappan, a northern area where the local First Nation has protested, blockaded and is going to court to protect.

The order relates to existing coal tenures in the Mount Klappan area, lands the Tahltan First Nation calls the Sacred Headwaters, where the Skeena, Stikine and Nass rivers meet.

The First Nation and the provincial government have been working on a shared vision for development of land and resources in the area for a year, and last December the government deferred any decisions on new coal licences.

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The latest order affects existing coal tenures, which the Tahltan stated it wanted included in any discussions around development.

In a news release, the government said it would be appropriate to defer permits and permit amendments for existing coal tenures while it looks at the potential of designated protected areas in the Klappan.

In June, the Tahltan announced it was preparing a legal fight over rights and title against the province and Fortune Minerals (TSX:FT), the owner of a proposed open-pit coal mine on Mount Klappan.

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