[Solid Gold Resources vs. Wahgoshig F.N.] Court, government threw junior miner “under the bus,” company claims – by Northern Ontario Business staff (January 11, 2012)

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A Thornhill, Ont. junior miner has come out swinging against an Ontario Superior Court decision that temporarily halted exploration in northeastern Ontario.

Solid Gold Resources fired back at Justice Carol Brown’s Jan. 3 ruling to side with the Wahgoshig First Nation in granting an injunction to temporarily halt exploration at the company’s Legacy gold project.

Solid Gold was ordered to stop its activity for 120 days while the company and the Ontario government pay for a third party mediator to begin a consultation process. The First Nation claimed it was not consulted on exploration activity and that the area in question holds significant cultural and archaeological values.

The company declined an interview request, but in a statement company president Darryl Stretch called the court’s ruling “plainly wrong on many levels.”

In a lengthy written rebuttal entitled, ‘Forked Tongue at Lake Abitibi,’ Stretch said the province delegated its legal responsibility to consult with First Nations to a third party, his mining company, something the Crown cannot do.

He challenged the court’s written judgment saying various facts were withheld and evidence placed before the court was overlooked.

Stretch added his company made no admission of damage in court and that the area at issue has been prospected and drilled by the Ontario government and other major exploration players for 50 years.

The company has a wholly-owned interest in a 200-square-kilometre exploration property along the Porcupine gold trend in the Lake Abitibi region, just west of the Ontario-Quebec border.

Stretch said his small privately-owned company was drawn into a “turf war” between the Crown and the First Nation.

“To bully a pitiful, weak third-party start-up, throwing it and its investors under the bus for the entertainment of the court and First Nations is not honourable. Apparently, the Crown and court owe no honour to its corporations or to the public at large: only to First Nations.”

He further charged that his company was an “extortion” target with the First Nation demanding Solid Gold spend $100,000 to “search for native values” and to stop exploration until it was completed.

Stretch said his company said is not challenging the ruling, but warned the judgment cannot be used to set precedence or provincial policy. He hinted that allowing First Nations to make these types of demands could jeopardize future investment in exploration projects in Ontario.

“Imagine then…a prospector/explorer floating a $3.6 million IPO by disclosing that it had no permission to explore until First Nations were satisfied. Step right up, investors all.

Stretch stated he will make further comment on this issue at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in early March.