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First nation blockade of B.C. mine stalls aboriginal exploration deal

Environmental concerns of two B.C. first nations have stalled an economic step forward for a third.

The Simpcw first nation has halted plans to sign a rights and title agreement with a mining company after the Neskonlith and Adams Lake bands blockaded an access road 155 kilometres northeast of Kamloops.

The road leads to the Ruddock Creek site, a planned lead-zinc mine proposed by Imperial Metals Corporation.

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The Simpcw expected to sign a deal Tuesday with Imperial Metals to explore the site, but Chief Nathan Matthew now says his members will delay the agreement until concerns of the Neskonlith and Adams Lake bands are resolved.

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says proper environmental assessments haven't been done and the proposed mine could contaminate the headwaters of Adams, Columbia and Thompson Rivers.

Spokesmen for the provincial environment ministry and for the company did not return telephone calls for comment.

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