MAC: Mines and Communities

Uranium firm runs afoul of Labrador Inuit government

Published by MAC on 2007-09-12

Uranium firm runs afoul of Labrador Inuit government

CBC News

12th September 2007

The Inuit self-government in Labrador has clamped down on a mining company it says has violated exploration rules.

Nunatsiavut has decided to not approve future permits for a company that has been looking for uranium in northern Labrador, on grounds that it did not seek permission first.

Nunatsiavut officials would not identify the company, but CBC News has learned it is Silver Spruce Resources.

Terry Rice, who chairs the uranium committee in Makkovik, said a Silver Spruce Resources release earlier this year caught his attention.

The company reported that it was exploring in an area he didn't think they had permits for.

After Rice forwarded the information to the Nunatsiavut government, he was told his suspicions were correct.

"It came back they were exploring on land [for which] they didn't have approval," Rice said.

Silver Spruce Resources was not available for comment.

Before exploring on land covered under the Nunatsiavut agreement, companies must obtain permission from the government.

First Minister Tony Andersen said the company submitted work plans after it had already completed some exploration work.

As a response, the government said it will not issue more operating permits to the company. Andersen said the decision sends a strong message.

"If you don't comply with the standards that we have worked very hard to put in place, then there are consequences," Andersen said.

The Nunatsiavut agreement, reached in 2005 after almost three decades of negotiations, covers 72,520 square kilometres of northern Labrador. Of that, the Inuit directly own 15,800 square kilometres of land - two per cent of Labrador's land mass - and co-manage the rest.

The Inuit also have special rights along the coast to 44,030 square kilometres of sea.

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