Matawa First Nations want consultation on decision to allow
exploration rights on 75,000 acres to Platinex mining company

From the Desk of Joan Kuyek
National Coordinator
MiningWatch Canada

THUNDER BAY, On — The President of Platinex says that he is upset about how his company has been viewed in the media. The small mining company has been at the centre of the controversy over the jailing of First Nations Chief, Band Councillors, and a resident of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI).

Earlier this week, Platinex issued a press release outlining how they had gained 72,000 acres in Northern Ontario. The company said, "Worthy of mentioning is that one criterion in particular that Platinex has used in property selection has been for positive relations between First Nation Bands and exploration companies in the adjoining areas to have been cooperatively demonstrated as exploration there has progressed to date.”

In response the Matawa First Nations Chiefs said:

"The Matawa First Nations Chiefs are disappointed to learn through the media of Platinex's newly announced exploration claims in our traditional territories of Webequie First Nation, Eabametoong First Nation, Marten Falls First Nation, and Neskantaga First Nation.  Learning about such crucial developments through the media is not the correct approach in consulting with First Nations.

"The Matawa First Nations have built positive relationships with various mining exploration companies in our territories.  We have created win-win relationships with those companies who show willingness to work respectfully and collaboratively with our communities, to ensure that our cultures, rights and interests are honoured and our voices heard.  We do not desire to enter into dispute or conflict with Platinex, (however) we expect Platinex, as with all mining and exploration companies, to respect our First Nations' consultation and accommodation protocol and requirements.

"As First Nation Chiefs, we are disappointed by the inaction of the Government of Ontario to consult with and accommodate us about the mining claims that Platinex has staked in our territory.  Such claims will likely have a direct impact on our communities.  We need to be consulted before these claims are accepted or recorded by Ontario.  The Ontario Government has lagged considerably behind jurisprudence on Aboriginal and Treaty rights, and must update the Mining Act to conform to current Canadian law.  If serious attention is not given to this matter soon, the uncertainty that currently faces the mineral industry on duty to consult issues will worsen and support for mineral development from First Nations will wane".

The Matawa First Nations consist of nine First Nations located throughout north-western Ontario with their tribal council in Thunder Bay.