Cecilia Jamasmie | September 23, 2014
A Quebec judge has ruled that a $815 million (Cdn$900 million) lawsuit by two Canadian aboriginal communities against Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), can move forward.
The Innu communities of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and Matimekush-Lac John asked the court last March for an injunction against IOC’s unit in Quebec and Labrador to stop all mining. The groups claim the miner has violated their rights for nearly 60 years by operating without their permission.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard rejected Rio’s subsidiary’s claim that the Innu had to sue the government instead of the mining company, which is Canada’s biggest producer of the steel-making ingredient.
The Innu claim that IOC’s mines and other facilities have ruined the environment, displaced members from their territory and prevented them from practising their traditional way of life. They also said the 578-kilometre railway between Schefferville and Sept-Iles has opened up their territory to “numerous other destructive development projects.”
The allegations have not been proven in court.
The Innu communities have already reached agreements with ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT), Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF), Tata Steel (NSE:TATASTEEL), New Millennium Iron (TSX:NML) and Labrador Iron Mines (TSX:LIM), which provide financial compensation for the mining activities.