Legal battle looms amid Cat Lake Nation, First Mining road dispute

Cat Lake First Nation has launched legal action to halt construction of an 18-km access road crucial to First Mining Gold’s (TSX: […]
An ice runway at First Mining Gold’s Springpole project in northwestern Ontario. Credit: Henry Lazenby

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Cat Lake First Nation has launched legal action to halt construction of an 18-km access road crucial to First Mining Gold's (TSX: FF; US-OTC: FFMGF) Springpole project in northern Ontario.

The lawsuit, filed last week in the Superior Court of Justice in Thunder Bay, conveys the community's persistent opposition to mining on its traditional lands, as shown by a mining moratorium it declared in 2023.

The dispute hinges on the issuance of road construction permits by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on Feb. 9, which Cat Lake leaders describe as blatant disregard for their vehement opposition. Chief Russell Wesley said in a sharply worded news release last week that the community is concerned over potential adverse effects on wildlife habitats, fish populations, and sacred sites, including areas with pictographs and ancestral burial grounds.

“Once such a road is built — cutting down trees, harming local wildlife habitat used by moose,  caribou and wolverine, depleting fish stocks, damaging sacred Cat Lake cultural sites, and disturbing Cat Lake burial grounds — such actions, and their harms, cannot be undone,” Wesley said in the release.

The move comes as a mild winter wreaks havoc among remote First Nations communities, which depend on ice roads for resupply.

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