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Injunction pauses road to gold in northern Ontario – National Observer

March 6th 2024

Cat Lake First Nation has won an injunction against a provincially approved winter road project that would lead to a proposed gold mine in northern Ontario.

Chief Russell Wesley told reporters at a press conference at Queen’s Park on Tuesday that the permit Ontario signed for the winter road “significantly destabilized the situation” between the project proponent, First Mining, and his community.

He told Canada’s National Observer that Cat Lake put a moratorium on mining activity on its territory. When Ontario filed the permits, it showed a complete disregard for the moratorium Wesley said was needed for proper consultation on the gold mine, which sits in an environmentally and culturally sensitive area.

In an interview with Canada’s National Observer, Wesley reiterated that Cat Lake is not opposed to mining development. For example, the community has signed mining and revenue-sharing agreements in the past.

However, Wesley noted the community is only willing to talk about development if the consultation is fair. Wesley is zeroing in on how Ontario has failed every step of the way as a treaty partner, essentially abdicating its duty to consult and putting the onus of consultation on industry and First Nations.

He sees the consultation period of 120 days as a box-ticking exercise, consisting of phone calls and emails with the province. Not once has a ministry representative stepped foot in Cat Lake to consult the community about the Springpole mine project, he added.

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