First Nations are standing firm against new mining permits, saying a map that might be more than a century old is outdated.
A region in northern Ontario had 176 mining permits approved, and eight of them would be part of a $3.9 billion chromite mining project in the community of Sudbury. The federal Department of the Environment and Climate Change told the Environmental Review Tribunal it felt the social, environmental and economic benefits of the project were balanced.
The Federal minister of Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, said the approved permits do not have environmental impact, but she agrees with the Meech Lake band that a lot of information is missing.
“The lot falls short of creating a positive environment for the region. We expect the project to leverage economic and social opportunities for communities.”
In a statement, the Environmental Review Tribunal said it will look at the permits within its jurisdiction and deal with the permits at the time they were granted.
But the Sudbury region has some of the largest coalfields in the country, containing the raw ingredients for the alloy that are called chromite. China, which accounts for about 80% of the world’s supply, has the most chromite.
The Ontario government said it’s working with the First Nation to improve communication, following an event in January where its ministers deflected questions from a member of the Meech Lake band.
The Meech Lake band, which said it has about 200 members, said it filed a complaint of “trickery and bad faith” with the Ontario Department of Environment and Climate Change after it issued the permits that the band said was approved before a national guidebook was created in 1999.
“The Meech Lake Band is greatly concerned that inadequate and outdated maps and other information related to these minerals as well as information on the project may have influenced the decision making of Ontario’s Government.”
The country’s Ministry of the Environment said all of the permits are still valid and they are continuing to monitor activities.
“The company for Taseko has responded to the advice and agreed to meet with us to work on a plan to enhance the geographic accuracy of the maps and information. We are also going to work with the Sudbury Regional Council to improve the information in the chronology of permits issued so that everyone can have a better understanding.”