Grand Falls-Windsor -
A potentially lucrative mineral deposit near Buchans, the Mary March property, will remain dormant until two junior exploration companies can work out the details of who actually owns rights to it.
And the provincial government refuses to get involved in the debate.
The two companies are Vinland Resources and Canstar Resources, and the issue is the old surveys originally commissioned by AbitibiBowater's corporate ancestor, the A.N.D. Company.
The surveys themselves are unclear as to what belonged to the Crown, and what was the paper company's.
Even though the province has expropriated the lands formerly belonging to AbitibiBowater, it is still unclear if either company has a right to file claims on the Mary March property.
"That's a legal process and I don't have control over the legal process," said Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale. "The (Newfoundland and Labrador Mineral Rights Adjudication Board) board hears, the companies can go to the courts, they can appeal, and that's an issue that has to be resolved through the court. It's a court issue and that's the law of the land.
"I understand it's frustrating for Canstar, but that's the process. People have the right to exercise their legal rights. We don't have control over it."
While Vinland chairman Al Chislett said he would not comment on the situation while the dispute remains in court, Canstar's chairman, Harry Hodge, says he hopes the expropriation issues will not dominate the government's agenda to the extent they totally forget about the Mary March debacle.
"We are most anxious to reclaim the Mary March property and recommence our long time plans to explore and develop the property," he said.
"In the meantime, we have been very proactive in attempting to either get the courts to reject Vinland's appeal outright or to persuade the government to expeditiously legislate an amendment to the mining act to end the dispute," Hodge said.
"We believe that the onus is now squarely on the government to end this longstanding dispute."