Platinex to visit contested property; the KI prepare to stop them

 

Platinex to visit contested property; the KI prepare to stop them

 

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The first nations group, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), has been flying protestors to a remote exploration project in northwestern Ontario over the last few days to stop platinum explorer, Platinex (PTX-V, PANXF-O), from accessing the site in a continuation of a battle that saw six KI members jailed in March 2008.

 

Platinex president, James Trusler, says he and a small team of field staff had planned to visit the Big Trout project today, but thunderstorms prevented them from taking a small float plane to the site as planned. The company received a court injunction in October 2007 confirming its legal right to proceed with a drill program and the archeological prescreening of the drill hole sites but has not been able to make progress because of the conflict. The visit has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

 

"A couple of us are looking to go into the site and spot a few holes," says Trusler while en route from Thunder Bay to Trout Lake. "And hopefully we'll be able to engage with the people."

 

But the KI has made it abundantly clear that they have no interest in talking with anyone from Platinex. The KI wants to first resolve its concerns over Aboriginal treaty rights with the Ontario government, which could take years and will require a great deal of compromise from both ends. So, when Platinex arrives tomorrow, it won't be received with open arms.

 

"Platinex is landing on the lake but they are not welcome," says Sam Mackay, a councilor with the KI. "Our intent is not to let Platinex go to the site,"

 

The Ontario Provincial Police have been circling the site with a helicopter and the KI posted a YouTube video showing the chopper this morning.

 

Mackay, who points out that the OPP are there in case the protest turns violent and not to enforce the injunction, couldn't estimate how many people would be protesting because more volunteers keep asking to how they too can get to the site.

 

Platinex and the KI have been fighting over this land claim for nearly a decade but surprisingly they have something in common. They both blame the government for the predicament they are in.

 

Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, says Platinex should have met developed with the KI offsite before trying to visit the project and that in early August the government sent out a letter offering to help facilitate such a meeting.

 

"I do think it's unfortunate that this is the course that they've taken," Gravelle says. "I certainly can't tell them what they can and cannot do."

 

Gravelle says the KI have made it clear they don't want Platinex to be in their community, and that that's why the government has offered to bring them together offsite.

 

But Platinex says the government did not return its calls between November 2008 through May 2009 and the KI is adamant about not meeting with Platinex.