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Indian Band Seeks to Block Mine Expansion

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - The government of British Columbia failed to consult a local Indian band when it approved the expansion of the Endako mine on tribal land in the province's north-central region, the Stellat'en First Nation claims in B.C. Supreme Court.

Chief Reginald Louis, on behalf of the band, claims the government did not fulfill its duty to consult the band about the Thompson Creek Metals Company's plans for the mine's expansion. The province allegedly amended the Mines Act to permit the company to build a new mill on the site where an open-pit molybdenum mine has been operating since 1965.

The mine was supposed to close in 2013, but the expansion is poised to extend the life of the mine until at least 2027, the band claims. Louis says the mine expansion will encroach on its territory.

"The amendment allows for the construction of an expanded mill, which is an essential component of a project that will significantly expand the size, annual production, and mine life of the mine," the petition states. "The mine and its expansion represent very significant infringements of the aboriginal title of the petitioners and impacts to their aboriginal rights."

The province allegedly downplayed the impacts of the project by breaking it up into components that were "disassociated from the totality of the expansion project," and consultation with the band was "limited to artificially parsed components or steps in the expansion project."

The Stellat'en First Nation seek an order blocking the mine's expansion and a declaration that the government failed to meaningfully consult with the band before approving the project.

The band is represented by Ratcliffe & Company LLP.

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