Ontario firm criticized for using map from 1998 to win approval for new mining permits

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Allan Wall

The Ontario government approved new mining permits for former holdings of Glencore International Ltd., using an internal department document stating that a map the local First Nation says is dated in its website and inaccurate.

The permits, issued after Glencore shed much of its Canadian assets to focus on its U.S. assets, include three old mines in Ontario’s Latrobe region that mostly employ First Nations communities.

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The O’Mahoney First Nation says the map that was used to award the permits was issued in 1998. But the 1998 map differs greatly from the updated map posted on the O’Mahoney’s website, said Jeff Weiss, a member of the chief’s advisory council and an expert on First Nations land rights.

Glencore confirmed the error but said it did not raise any concerns or ask the Ontario government to reconsider.

“These were three simple land abandonment permits that had been approved since the 90s,” Glencore spokesman Steven Paget said. “The department of natural resources used a paper copy from a colonial era map when developing the permit process in the modern day for reasons of efficiency and an aim to reduce complexity for participants.”

The permits in question were issued for Glencore’s Stillwater and Malartic mines in the early 2000s, Paget said.

Weiss, who said he has consulted with the O’Mahoney First Nation since 2016 to help determine its land rights, called the permit approval “trickery and bad faith” on the part of the Ontario government and Glencore.

The O’Mahoney First Nation has been at the center of a complicated tug-of-war between Glencore and the province since 2009.

The government issued Glencore permits for two properties in the same region after the mines were closed. But the O’Mahoney First Nation demanded Glencore halt any mining efforts until all environmental conditions were met and compensation paid.

The two sides negotiated a settlement that still has not been finalized.

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