Judge nixes stop-work order; miner forges on First Nation wants to evict firm from land

Date of publication: 
5 July 2013

A court has granted a mineral-exploration company a temporary injunction against an eviction notice and a stop-work order obtained by a Manitoba First Nation.

The injunction means Mega Precious Metals Inc. can continue to operate.

The spat between the company and Red Sucker Lake First Nation (RSLFN) broke out this week after more than two years of apparent co-operation between the two.

However, First Nation officials were frustrated at what some say was the lack of jobs or training opportunities and growing environmental concerns.

The chief and council terminated a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mega — one of only three such agreements that have ever been negotiated in the province — and evict the mining company from the band’s land.

But the company received an injunction from the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench.

The order authorizes the arrest of anyone obstructing, trespassing or creating a nuisance or “engaging in any act which interferes with the operations of the Monument Bay project.”

The injunction is valid until Thursday.

In its first public statement since it received the eviction notice Monday, company CEO Glen Kuntz said, “Mega believes the company has, and continues to demonstrate our respect for Red Sucker Lake First Nations’ treaty rights. Mega plans to continue to meet with community members and provide project updates on a regular basis in an effort to maintain our social licence to operate.”

Mega Precious Metals is in the process of proving up a gold reserve called Monument Bay in a location about 60 kilometres north of Red Sucker Lake ,which is within the band’s traditional area.

The company said it has spent about $2.1 million in the community including more than $400,000 to the RSLFN to fund two positions for community liaison officers between the Monument Bay project and the community as well as to fund a land-use study.

In a news release last month, Kuntz said Monument Bay has the potential “to become Canada’s next great gold mine.”

Red Sucker Lake is about 700 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

The company statement said: “Mega Precious Metals is surprised and disheartened by the action taken by the RSLFN” and that as recently as March 26, a report signed off by Chief Leslie Harper stated the RSLFN is content with Mega Precious Metals in community relations.

But ongoing frustration over what some community members believe to be a lack of good faith regarding jobs or training for a potential future mine led to a community consensus in April to terminate the MOU.

A source familiar with the situation but who spoke on condition his name not be used, said there is growing concern environmental conditions in the area are deteriorating and the province continues to issue permits to the mining company without consulting the First Nation.

In a letter to Mega’s board of directors, RSLFN Chief Les Harper said, “Mega Precious Metals Inc. has been issued unlawful work and camp permits by the Province of Manitoba which is adversely impacting the exercise of treaty rights and our management of our lands.”

In an email exchange, an official with the provincial Department of Innovation, Energy and Mines said, “Whenever work permits for mineral-exploration activities are applied for by a company, Manitoba Innovation, Energy and Mines will consult with First Nations and aboriginal communities that may be affected and the consultations will be considered in making decisions about the work permit, including conditions of the work permit.”


Northern Manitoba First Nation tells mining company to stop work and get out

Ian Graham, Thompson Citizen – http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/article/20130705/THOMPSON0107/307059998/-...
5 July 2013

The chief, councillors and some citizens of Red Sucker Lake First Nation in northeast Manitoba near the Ontario border issued a stop work order and eviction notice at Mega Precious Metals Inc.‘s Monument Bay Project mineral exploration camp 60 kilometres north of the community on July 1.

“This STOP WORK ORDER is issued because: Mega Precious Metals Inc. and affiliated companies have breached the Customary Laws of Mithkomaybin Thakaykun Ininiwak as represented by Red Sucker Lake First Nation by constructing, operating and extracting resources from Twin Lakes without the expressed permission of the owners Mithkomaybin Thakaykun Ininiwak as represented by Red Sucker Lake First Nation,” read the stop work order. “WARNING: The failure to stop work, the resumption of work without permission from the Mithkomaybin Thakaykun Ininiwak as represented by Red Sucker Lake First Nation is punishable by the Customary Laws of Red Sucker Lake First Nation.”

“On April 13, 2013, our people voted unanimously to halt all mineral exploration activity in our territory by whatever means possible,” said Red Sucker First Lake Nation Chief Les Harper in a press release. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes, we will abide by our people’s wish to enforce the Stop Work Order and the Eviction Notice.”

The Red Sucker Lake First Nation delegation also hand-delivered an eviction notice to the Twin Lakes camp, which was also e-mailed to Mega Precious Metals Inc.‘s office in Thunder Bay, Ont., which read: “Red Sucker Lake First Nation (RSLFN) Chief and Council by the order of the Mithkomaybin Thakaykun Ininiwak serve you this Notice of Eviction to vacate the Mithkomaybin Thakaykun Ininiwak territory effective immediately upon service. This entails an immediate removal of all equipment and the mineral exploration camp infrastructure from our traditional territory namely, Twin Lakes. ... The permits and licenses granted to Mega Precious Metals Inc. are unlawful due to the absence of adequate consultation and accommodation. In our opinion, there is a great infringement of Aboriginal and Treaty rights and a total disregard and recognition of Mithkomaybin Thakaykun Ininiwak Mithkomaybin Thakaykun Ininiwak rights, and management of lands.”

An e-mail containing photos of the stop work order being posted stated that people at the camp were cooperative and indicated they would leave in the morning. A pair of Red Sucker Lake First Nation members who worked at the camp were asked to stay to monitor and secure the camp.

“In speaking for the people, they have lost trust in Mega and the Government of Manitoba who continue to undermine their constitutional rights by using the court system, police and unlimited human and financial resources,” said Red Sucker Lake First Nation spokesperson Fred Harper.

A letter terminating the Nov. 20, 2010 memorandum of understanding between Mega Precious Metals Inc. and Red Sucker Lake First Nation was also e-mailed to Mega Precious Metals Inc.‘s office. “Red Sucker Lake First Nation by the direct order of the citizens of Red Sucker Lake First Nation and by Simon McDougall, the local trapper, hereby demand Mega Precious Metals Inc. cease and desist on all activities at Monument Bay Project,” read the letter. “Mega Precious Metals Inc. has been issued unlawful work and camp permits by the Province of Manitoba which is adversely impacting the exercise of Treaty rights and our management of our lands.

“The company promised training and hope was raised,” said Red Sucker Lake First Nation Coun. Betty Dan, who made the trip to the Twin Lakes camp. “We were told the environment would be protected now our waters are poisoned. The Government of Manitoba and Mega Precious Metals gave us false hope and they are not respecting us.”

Another letter was e-mailed to Premier Greg Selinger, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak and Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship Gord Mackintosh on June 28.

“We had thought we could share the wealth off our lands with your government and the companies, and protecting our waters at the same time,” said that letter. “It is becoming very clear our lands will be damaged beyond repair and we will not have a share of jobs and benefits. Right now the damage to our lands far outweigh the benefits. We own our traditional territories and we are now demanding that you stop issuing unlawful permits to Mega Precious Metals Inc. and to stay off our lands. You do not have our consent.

“The ‘Crown-First Nation Consultation Protocol’ signed on November 16, 2010 is now terminated due to inadequate consultation, accommodation and due to the recent delegation of community consultation to Mega Precious Metals Inc. which is contrary to the Protocol.

“We demand you ‘cease and desist’ from issuing permits and licences that affect our lands and waters and withdraw all the unlawful permits to Mega Precious Metals Inc. A moratorium on resource development is in effect.”

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief David Harper said in a July 2 press release that the organization represetning Northern Manitoba First Nations supported the move by Red Sucker Lake First Nation.

“Every single day, the mining industry in northern Manitoba creates more wealth from our Treaty territories without sharing any of that wealth with northern First Nations,” said Harper.

“To this day, there is still not one Impact and Benefit Agreement in place between the mining industry and the First Nations of northern Manitoba. MKO supports the Red Sucker Lake First Nation in their declaration that ‘enough is enough’. MKO will continue to demand that the mining and exploration industries immediately start ‘sharing the wealth’ with the First Nations of northern Manitoba.”

“The MKO First Nations will not be intimidated by threats or legal maneuvering by the mining and exploration industry into abandoning our sacred obligation to protect our waters and lands and to provide for the future of our communities.”

Mega Precious Metals Inc.‘s Monument Bay project is 340 kilometres southeast of Thompson, 60 kilometres northeast of Red Sucker Lake and 100 kilometres east of Gods Lake Narrows. It consists of 136 contiguous claims totaling 338 square kilometers and is estimated to contain 2.9 million ounces of gold, according to the company.

“While the Measured and Indicated resource has grown significantly, the average open-pit grade of 1.4 g/t provides high quality ounces with significant potential for resource expansion in a politically safe and mining friendly Canadian jurisdiction giving Monument Bay the potential to become Canada’s next great gold mine,” said Mega president and CEO Glen Kuntz in a June 17 press release.