A junior miner with offices in Vancouver and Beijing is taking the government of British Columbia to court over a treaty-related transfer of land to a First Nations group that the company says should concern all resource companies in the province.
China Minerals Mining Corp. and its subsidiary Cassiar Gold Corp. have filed a petition with the Supreme Court of British Columbia that seeks to reverse a portion of the B.C. government’s transfer of Crown land near the Yukon border in northern B.C. to the Kaska Dena Council.
The transfer was done through an incremental treaty agreement, an arrangement in which the province can grant treaty-like benefits to First Nations groups in advance of a formal modern treaty – a process that could take many years in a province where most First Nations never signed treaties.
China Minerals, which holds mineral tenure on a portion of the land transferred to a company owned by the Kaska Dena and has invested about $36-million in exploration and drilling, said the company was not consulted by the government in the process and that the Kaska Dena plan to develop a “run-of-river” hydroelectric project on the site that is incompatible with developing existing mine sites into active gold mines.
“It’s effectively terminated the company’s ability to proceed, without knowing in advance,” says Joan Young, a partner at McMillan LLP in Vancouver. “I think any resource company should be concerned about that.… It was effectively expropriated.”
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