Two mineral exploration companies with operations in Labrador are abandoning two mineral claims in a geographic hotspot for threatened caribou.
Altius Minerals and Cliffs Natural Resources are pulling up stakes on claims they had in Nunatsiavut — smack in the heart of important calving grounds for the George River caribou herd.
“As an aboriginal government, we look at the George River caribou herd very seriously,” said Glen Sheppard, minister of environment and lands for the Nunatsiavut Government (NG).
“If that is one of their main reasons for giving up those claims, then hats off to them.”
Kaylen Hill, manager of environmental affairs for Altius Minerals, said the issue with the calving grounds was only one factor for the company’s decision to abandon the claims. Cliffs Natural Resources is a partner with Altius on those claims.
“Of course, the uncertainty with the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area land use plan was a factor with regards to claims in that area — the NG was putting a lot of importance on the calving area there, and rightly so,” said Hill.
“But there was also other factors, including the current markets, the availability of funds and the economic climate overall.”
Hill noted the two companies do have other claims around Labrador, and although they do have other claims in northern Labrador, they do not expect to do anything with them in the foreseeable future.
“We haven’t applied to do any work on them and chances are, we’ll just let them expire.”
Valérie Courtois, senior adviser for Aboriginal relations for Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI), applauds the decision by Altius Minerals and Cliffs Natural Resources
“Resource development must respect Aboriginal interests, and land use plans are the best way to clarify what areas should be protected for wildlife and what areas are suitable for industry,” said Courtois in a CBI news release.
“Cliffs and Altius should be applauded for doing the right thing.”