Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mining companies band against Bands.

Junior miners revolt over native deals.
Small resource companies band together in the wake of court clashes with aboriginals over development on Crown land.

So read the headline published in the GLOBE AND MAIL dated March 28, 2012 and written by a Jeff Gray.

As courts have declared, the Crown has the duty to consult when it comes to land and resource development.  However, I often wondered…where is the Crown? Junior mining companies in northern Ontario, I hope, are wondering the same.

“Confrontations between native bands and mining companies, particularly in Northern Ontario, have been increasing.” As the headline reads, this time it is with some junior mining companies.

Enter a Darryl Stretch, “whose Solid Gold Resources Inc. was hit in January with a rare court injunction suspending drilling on claims near Lake Abitibi in Northern Ontario.”

“Mr. Stretch said the Wahgoshig wanted him to pay for a $100,000 archeological study to determine if drill sites were disturbing burial grounds. He refused, saying, Solid Gold could not afford it. He says his firm has no legal requirement to consult the band, “It’s not my obligation to go find arrowheads for those people, period,” he said in a phone interview.”


“What’s being asked of them has nothing to do with consultation.  It has everything to do with compensation, “ says Neal Smitherman, a lawyer who acts for junior miners in disputes with native groups.

As most may agree, lost arrowheads are of the past and has nothing to do with “consultation” on aboriginal and/or treaty rights which is supposed to be of a forward-looking process; i.e. will the affected first nation still be able to hunt, fish, trap, pick berries, etc. if and when there is a proposed development in an area regarded as traditional territory?

Still, finding arrowheads in traditional land use studies have become big business as first nations across Canada now look to the past and big companies have bought into that idea in order to come to some sort of resolution with first nations which then has resulted in great expectations. According to Mr. Stretch, a $100,000 dollar expectation.

According to the courts, Mr. Stretch and his company do play a part in the consultation process. A process that is supposed to look to the future regarding respect for rights.

However, arrowheads of the past have become of great value. Tell that to Mr. Stretch.