NW Ont. First Nation prevents mining company from landing plane near claim


NW Ont. First Nation prevents mining company from landing plane near claim


(c) 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


THUNDER BAY, Ont. _ Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KI) band members prevented a floatplane carrying Platinex Inc. officials from landing on a lake near the company's remote northwestern Ontario mining claims on Wednesday.


While about a half-dozen provincial police officers watched from the shores of Nemeigusabins Lake, KI residents operating boats made it impossible for the plane to land safely.


Band Coun. Sam McKay said Wednesday that provincial police officers arrived about 10:30 a.m. by helicopter and were followed a half-hour later by the floatplane carrying Platinex CEO James Trusler and a field team.


“Platinex arrived but were blocked from landing by boats,'' McKay said, adding the pilot made three attempts to land and then flew off to land at a lake about 10 kilometres away.


The floatplane was spotted again about an hour later when it circled above the protesters on Nemeigusabins Lake about 30 kilometres south of KI.


“It didn't stick around and was last seen flying south,'' McKay said.


McKay said police “didn't say anything'' to the several dozen protesters at the Platinex mineral exploration property which has been the site of protests in the past.


Sgt. Shelley Garr said officers were there “to protect the public and keep the peace.''


Company spokesman Stephen Skyvington said in a news release that the company is blaming the provincial government for the situation.


The Platinex visit was attempted in order to carry out work necessary before any drilling can begin on the property, potentially rich in platinum.


“The McGuinty government asked Platinex to stand down for one year and not visit the site so that they could consult with Chief (Donny) Morris and the KI First Nation in order to reach an understanding. We stayed on the sidelines for almost a year and a half, waiting for government to make good on their promise. Unfortunately, no consultations took place and nothing was resolved,'' Skyvington said.


“Clearly, Premier (Dalton) McGuinty and his officials either don't care about this issue or simply decided to hide their heads in the sand, hoping Platinex and KI would go away.''


The company had said it would press for legal action if representatives were prevented from accessing the property.


McKay said an attempt by Northern Development , Mines and Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle to convene a meeting between KI and Platinex was the wrong approach.


“We want to meet with the premier,'' he said.


(Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal)