The province has purchased 61 coal licenses in the Klappan, also known as the Sacred Headwaters.
Fortune Minerals and POSCO Canada had held the licenses since 2002, but delays in talks with the Tahltan Nation has prevented further progress in developing the area.
The region is culturally important for the Tahltan Nation, and hold significant anthracite coal deposits.
The province says the acquisition of the licences was the fairest way to preserve their potential future value while providing the time and certainty necessary for discussions between the Tahltan and the province to move forward.
B.C. Rail, acting as an agent for the province, purchased the licenses for $18.3 million.
Under the B.C. Railway Act, B.C. Rail can purchase coal mines and land in connection with them.
The purchase agreement provides a 10-year option for Fortune Minerals and POSCO Canada to re-purchase the licences at the original price after the province and the Tahltan Nation have developed a shared vision for the Klappan.