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Canadian Indians Fight Mine Buyout

VANCOUVER, B.C. - A native Indian band claims the Canadian government failed to consult it when allowing Littleton, Colo.-based Thompson Creek Metals to buy out Vancouver-based Terrane Metals Corp.

The Nak'azdli First Nation, by its chief Fred Sam, claims the government failed to fulfill "its duty to consult and accommodate" the band when it allowed the buyout under the Investment Canada Act. Before that October decision, Terrane Metals was constructing the Mt. Milligan Copper-Gold Project near the band's main reserve.

"The Project and the change in controlling mind of the Project's owner, Terrane Metals, represent significant infringements of Nak'azdli-asserted Aboriginal rights and title," the application states. "The change in controlling mind of Terrane Metals has had significant and negative impacts on the Nak'azdli and their ability to protect asserted Aboriginal rights and title."

The mine is on the traditional territory of the band and is set to produce 60,000 tons of ore per day for a 22-year lifespan, according to the complaint. Members of the band have attempted unsanctioned blockades on the site, while negotiations stalled because Thompson Creek allegedly stonewalled the band's efforts to meet with the company since July.

The company, the application says, "demonstrated a serious disregard for the working with Nak'azdli" by refusing meetings with band representatives and by seeking a court injunction to have blockades removed even after the chief and council committed to have it dismantled.

The Nak'azdli are represented by Peter R. Grant.

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