Ontario bans mining on huge stretch of land

The province of Ontario has removed 23,000 square kilometres of land near Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation from future mining claims.

Current claim still poses threat to Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug burial grounds

The province of Ontario has removed 23,000 square kilometres of land near Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation from future mining claims.

The government said on Sunday that it's respecting the First Nation's call for a moratorium on mining activity on the land over which it claims jurisdiction.

KI Chief Donny Morris said the province's move will help the First Nation, located about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, plan for future development.

KI First Nation Chief Donny Morris

"Then that should give us all the time we need to structure (ourselves), like policies, environmental issues, water issues," Morris said. "We need time."

Adrian Kupesic, a spokesperson for Mining Minister Rick Bartolucci, said the withdrawal of land from mine claim staking "indicates that we are serious …We want to give clarity to the province's mineral exploration industry and avoid future disagreements over the land in question."

But the new restrictions don't affect the imminent God's Lake Resources drilling project.

The gold mining company is about to start drilling in an area where the First Nation says its ancestors are buried.

First Nations issues discussed at convention

Mining and its impact on northern Ontario First Nations will be at the forefront of the Prospectors and Developers meeting, the industry's biggest event of the year, which wraps up Wednesday.

Glenn Nolan, former chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation and the new president of the Prospectors and Developers Association, said a full two days of the convention will be spent on sessions that focus on First Nations, including "the issues around the Ring of Fire and the inclusion of the communities that are mostly affected by that."

"But the spillover effects will be huge and will not only affect the Treaty 9 communities that want to participate, but other areas [as well]," he said.

The company’s Sherman Lake Gold Project is located about 400 kilometres north of Red Lake Ontario. 

In a press release issued last week the company noted that it’s "canvassing security companies to ensure the smooth completion of the drill program."

'Re-evaluate' position

KI Chief Donny Morris said he views that security mention as a strong message directed at him.

"I have to ... basically re-evaluate our position ... bring it up another level now," Morris said.

Morris and five other leaders from Kitchenuhmaykoosib were jailed in 2008 after protesting against another junior mining company operating in its traditional territory. The provincial government later bought out the mining company's claims, paying Platinex $5 million dollars to leave the area.

KI is planning a protest against the God's Lake project at the Prospector and Developers convention in Toronto this week.

Morris said he hopes it will help KI gain wider support for its attempts to stop the project.

"It's our traditional territory," Morris said. "I hunted, trapped, I had parents born, buried there. There's a graveyard."