Ontario Government Accused of Permitting ‘Travelling Mines’ Using ‘Out of Date’ Map

On Aug. 29, the Ontario government approved 13 mining permits using a map the Oneida Nation of the Thames says is decades out of date. The Ontario government said it relied on a 2015 map provided by the OSPCA of Campbell River. The OSPCA told BuzzFeed News the map was used to tally the number of animal seizures by its officers, who wrote reports then sent them to the Mining Exploration Licence and Completion Section, the department that authorizes mining projects in the province.

The Oneida Nation of the Thames, located in Ontario’s Kenora District, denies having “skewed or manipulated” the chart, and said the 2015 chart is outdated. The First Nation pointed out a map from 2010 that showed the Kenora district and the northwestern tip of the Fraser Basin to be within about 70 km (44 miles) of where the new permits were approved.

Despite the Oneida Nation’s claims, the province said the 2015 map reflects a true border for mining licenses. In a statement released Friday, Mining Minister Michael Gravelle said, “Mining exploration licences have indeed a border, and the 2019 map will be used to identify areas over which mining exploration will be permitted, while the 2015 map will be used to determine zones over which mining exploration permits will be issued.”

The Oneida Nation of the Thames called the government’s action “trickery and bad faith” in a statement released on Aug. 30, and expressed its opposition to the “travelling mines” they claim will violate its sovereignty and violate local waterways. The First Nation is asking the government to withhold a mining licence that was recently granted for a “business concept” project worth $3.5 million.

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