Junior miner ditches duty-to-consult lawsuit: Exploration president criticizes Queen's Park for hands-off approach to Indigenous engagement.

Author:Ross, Ian
Position:MINING
 
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A Sudbury junior miner has dropped a $25-million duty-to-consult lawsuit against the Ontario government and has settled out of court.

With their case still on appeal, Northern Superior Resources president Tom Morris said with a favourable outcome far from certain, it just made financial sense for the small exploration firm to end its five-year legal battle with Queen's Park.

He declined to comment on the terms of the agreement reached with the province.

"There was no guarantee that we were going to win anything out of that.

"The reality was that with what was offered to us, it just made sense to bite the bullet and move on, and the same from the government's standpoint."

Morris said four-person, budget-conscious, exploration outfits like his are ill-equipped to engage in drawn-out legal battles.

Northern Superior had originally sued the province for $110 million in the fail of 2013, arguing that the province failed to properly consult with Sachigo First Nation and didn't protect the company's government-granted right to stake and explore for gold near the Manitoba border.

The company later lowered its compensation demands in the hope of reaching an out-of-court settlement.

An Ontario Superior Court dismissed the company's case in 2016 and Northern Superior was handed a $440,000 bill for court costs.

The case was scheduled to go before an Ontario Court of Appeal this year where a three-judge panel would rule on the evidence already presented in the last trial.

As part of their settlement with the province, Northern Superior won't have to pay the legal bill and they certainly won't be compensated for the money they were asking for.

"God, no," said Morris. "We lost, essentially, the trial. We decided to cut our losses and move on."

In its lawsuit, the company claimed it lost access to its three northwestern Ontario gold properties after refusing to give in to a demand by Sachigo to pay an exorbitant 24 per cent "administration fee" to be drawn from the company's exploration budget. It was one of a series of disputes with the community.

The company claimed they were eventually "evicted" by the First Nation from having access to its gold properties in the fall of 2011.

In denying the allegation, the province responded that it was unaware of any difficulties between the junior miner and the community, and only became aware of it when the Northern Superior intended to sue.

The government maintained they made "reasonable and good faith efforts," to...

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