Legal battle erupts between mining company and aboriginals in northern Manitoba

WINNIPEG – A legal battle has erupted between HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM) and a northern Manitoba First Nation over two Idle No More rallies this winter.

HudBay is suing the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation over the rallies it says blocked the entrance to the company’s Lalor Lake site, where a gold, zinc and copper mine is being developed.

“In both cases, the blockades lasted about three or four hours,” HudBay spokesman John Vincic said Monday from Toronto.

“It put us in a difficult situation. We had to stop access and traffic in and out of the mine site.”

Mathias Colomb Chief Arlen Dumas says his members did not prevent access to the site, but simply held a peaceful demonstration.

Dumas also says HudBay and the Manitoba government, which licenses mines, should have obtained consent from area aboriginals before going ahead with development.

“We are sovereign and asserting our laws and jurisdiction over our unceded ancestral territory,” Dumas said in a release.

A court hearing on the lawsuit, as well as a request for an injunction against further rallies, is scheduled for Wednesday.

Work is well underway on development of the 916-hectare property.