Ontario's Minister of Northern Development and Mines says the updated version of its mining act offers clear, progressive guidance about Aboriginal consultation as it relates to mineral exploration activities.
However, in a recent statement about Aboriginal consultation and mineral exploration, Rick Bartolucci did not comment on a recent accusation by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation that a junior mining company made borderline racist comments.
Bartolucci's statement didn't mention the First Nation or mining company involved, but pointed out that, since 2006, the province has worked diligently to promote collaboration between industry and Aboriginal communities. He also said there are numerous examples where First Nations people and industry have formed successful partnerships.
The executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association agreed. Garry Clark said the industry has a good relationship with First Nations in general.
But NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno said there have been ongoing disputes between First Nations and mining companies.
On Thursday, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation accused Solid Gold CEO Darryl Stretch of making borderline racist comments against First Nations people.
Solid Gold has mining claims staked in the Wahgoshig First Nation traditional territory. However, the company has not been able to do any work on the land.
The case has been before the courts for several months, with the First Nation saying the mining company has no right to explore on its territory.
Stretch said he's disturbed by allegations of racism against him and his company. He noted the government is responsible for granting mining claims to companies and Stretch said he still hasn't heard anything from the province.
"It is disheartening when the argument apparently is reduced to calling names," Stretch said.
"And I find that rather disappointing. I guess I'm most disappointed that we're not hearing anything from the government on these matters."