Dear Editor, The Mary March debacle shows a clear picture of a failing system and lack of mining strategy in Newfoundland.
A recent article in the Telegram titled "Exploring the potential in central", seems to have overlooked the strategy of "protecting" Claim Holder's Rights in central Newfoundland. This article states that the province is looking for "public input" into this provincial mining strategy. I suggest seizing this invitation and opportunity.
Many people have become aware that the highly prospective Mary March property located in central Newfoundland-specifically the Buchans area has remained "dormant" for over a decade, held in limbo due to a property dispute between Vinland Resources versus the government, Noranda and Canstar Resources. Now in it's "eleventh" year, this dispute seems to go on and on and on. I might add such a dispute is unheard of in the entire span of Canadian mining history.
Vinland Resources alleged the Mary March property was not part of the Anglo Newfoundland Development (A.N.D.) Company's land package and therefore was open for staking. However this has been show to be false. In fact, in over 10 years Vinland has not put forward any conclusive evidence that this property was open for staking. This Mary March property was understood to be awarded to the A.N.D. Company since 1905. This property has been represented by the government as part of the A.N.D. Charter. It has always been identified as A.N.D. lands by the government.
Why hasn't the present government upheld these proclamations? When asked if the government would step into resolve the dispute, then Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale said there's not a resolution for that within the government. That's a legal issue, it's before the courts and that is were it's going to be resolved, she said.
However, this is contrary to what legal representatives for the case have stated. They say that a very simple legislative fix could resolve this dispute immediately. So who are we to believe? One would think that a legislative fix would be of utmost importance to "protect" Claim Holder's Rights and in the best interests of the province.
Yet after 10 years of court hearings and three decisions in Canstar's favour by the courts and appeal after appeal by Vinland, we are "still" awaiting a decision. All the while this frivilous dispute continues at the expense of tax payers dollars, tens of thousands of tax dollars.
Apparently the 2010 provincial budget includes $235,000 for the development of a provincial mining "strategy". Shawn Skinner (Minister of Natural Resources) says this strategy intends to ensure that mineral resources are developed in an environmentally responsible manner, while "supporting" exploration and development opportunities.
Gerry O'Connell (executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Chamber of Mineral Resources) says, mining in central Newfoundland could be as important, economically as offshore oil is to the Avalon Peninsula.
In order for these statements to resonate true, a mining strategy "must" create a system that "protects" Claim Holder's Rights and stops imminent claim jumping/overstaking in it's tracks. This strategy must also create a safe environment for future mining companies. Obviously new rules and regulations (legislation) must mandate this and be enforced to ensure this kind of situation never occurs in the future.
A 10-year "forced" hiatus in exploration on the Mary March property has severely crippled efforts to explore and hopefully develop a new mine at Mary March. Lost time, money in legal fees, etc.
How ridiculous is this from a government which "claims" to encourage and foster mineral exploration and development in the province.
Is the system "broken" or just inefficient and unprofessional? One thing for sure if this is not resolved soon Newfoundland will not be able to attract quality mineral exploration companies in the future. Funds will seek a safe haven elsewhere.