Ontario’s right to issue mining permits upheld in Appeals Court – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – March 19, 2013)

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TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Ontario’s highest court – the Court of Appeal – on Monday overturned the decision of the Ontario Superior Court in the case ‘Keewatin versus Minister of Natural Resources’, giving the province the right to ‘take up’ treaty lands for settlement, mining, lumbering or other purposes.

In 2000, the Grassy Narrows First Nation applied for a judicial review to set aside all licences, permits, management plans and work schedules that Ontario had granted to forester Abitibi-Consolidated, now known as Resolute Forest Products Canada, in 1997.

The First Nation argued the province’s permitting of clear-cut operations in parts of the Keewatin portion of Treaty 3 territory, infringed on the provisions of the treaty they signed in 1873.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the province did not need the federal government’s approval to take up the lands.

Goldcorp’s Red Lake gold mine, the largest gold mine in Canada, is located within the Keewatin lands and it was granted party intervener status on the appeals case, owing to its operations depending on licences issued by Ontario.

Project developer Rubicon Minerals on Monday said it had been notified of the court’s decision, which it saw as a “very positive” outcome, despite not being a party to the case.

“The decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in upholding the jurisdiction of the Province of Ontario to issue mining permits is very important for mining companies in Ontario,” the company said in a statement.

Last week, the company and the Province of Ontario consented to the request of the Wabauskang First Nation (WFN) to postpone their application for a judicial review of the company’s production closure plan for the advanced-stage Phoenix gold project, in the Red Lake area of Ontario, which was approved by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in December 2011.
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