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.
Rubicon said it had received notice of the review application on December 21, 2012.
WFN last week said it would not be able to “perfect their application” until 90 days after the Ontario Court of Appeal had given its decision in the ‘Keewatin versus Minister of Natural Resources’ case.
The postponement resulted in Rubicon’s TSX-listed shares climbing nearly 14% last Tuesday.
Rubicon said it preferred to pursue continued negotiations with WFN and it hoped for meaningful progress towards a benefits agreement with the WFN during this postponement.
However, the company said it saw the Ontario Court of Appeal's ruling to overturn the Keewatin decision as a very positive outcome and it firmly believed the application filed by the WFN for judicial review of Rubicon's production closure plan was without merit.
“Rubicon believes that it has properly consulted the WFN during the drafting of the production closure plan,” the company said.
The company noted it was “proud” of its consultation record with the neighbouring Aboriginal communities, its commitment to safe and responsible resource development and the successful provision of contracting and employment opportunities for Aboriginal communities.