The Toronto Sun reports:

Ontario will pay mining firm Platinex$5 million to drop lawsuits against the government and a First Nations band and end a long-standing dispute.In exchange for the cash and the royalty stake in any development in the next 25 years, Platinexwill drop its $70-million lawsuit against Ontario and another $10-billion suit against the KitchenuhmaykoosibInninuwugFirst Nation, located on Big Trout Lake, about 600 km north of Thunder Bay. Ontario said it would remove the land in question from staking and mineral exploitation. The lengthy dispute had dragged on for more than a decade and in part led the province to revamp its mining legislation, which hadn’t been amended for more than 100 years. It also saw six members of the KI band including Chief Donny Morris sent to jail for contempt of court in 2008 for blocking Platinex officials from the area of their claim. They were released on appeal and had their sentences reduced to time served.

It is hard to know if this is a story with a happy ending or a sad ending.Is this story a comedy or a tragedy, or simply a tragic-comedy?

Platinex gets five million which is probably less than they would have made had they proceeded to develop the mine. The company says their legal expenses are also to be paid inthe deal.

The local First Nations get peace and will no longer have to defend their claims or go to jail doing so.

The taxpayer, as always, pays for the incompetence of the regulators and bureaucrats that let this happen and drag along to the point of near-physical violence and billion dollar law suites.

The Globe and Mail reports that “The Ontario government has since reformed the province’s mining laws, which it says introduce a new vehicle for addressing disputes.”

However, another report notes “but the portion that would introduce a new mechanism for addressing disputes has not yet been proclaimed into law.”

Certainly new laws are required—and had better be proclaimed into law pretty soon.

Read this link for details of the long and bitter fights that make up this story. This is one of the funnier “incidents:”

Three months ago, a small floatplane circled over Big Trout Lake, a little over 500 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. In the waters below, Donny Morris steered an aluminum skiff into its path, frustrating the plane’s attempts to land. A few dozen members of the nearby community, of which Morris is chief, and a handful of OPP officers, recently arrived by helicopter, watched from the shore. The plane was carrying representatives of Platinex, a Toronto-based exploration company with mining claims adjoining the lake. It never got to land. This is just the latest confrontation in the ongoing conflict between Platinexand the community, KitchenuhmaykoosibInninuwug (Big Trout Lake) first nation.

I do not know whether to admire the miners at Platinexfor persistence; or to admire the First Nations for courage and endurance. Thinking about it, I suppose I must admire the Platinexlawyers who had the courage to claim billions and fight to settle for millions. I bet their fees are significant—butthe government is paying those–Platinexgets the full five million. Which only goes to show that you need lawyers to settle disputes with the government. Can you imaginethe outcome ofthis case if it had been dealt with in terms of a bill like Bill C-300? Platinex would have gotten nothing.

The only posting I could find that provides commentary and analysis on this case is at this link. I quote some:

Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry: “There’s no question that finding a resolution to this very, very difficult situation brings closure to a chapter in the history of the province is a relief for almost everyone.”

Anna Baggio, director of conservation land-use planning with WildlandsLeague, an environmental group working with the community known as KI: “I am relieved at the settlement, but have mixed feelings about the money Platinex will receive. Nobody likes to see bad behaviour rewarded.”

Christopher Reid, a lawyer representing KI: “The dispute could have been avoided if the government had negotiated a land-use plan with the community. KI never wanted taxpayers to have to pick up the tab for this.”

So for now, there you have it. If you go exploring in Ontario make sure you take your lawyers with you. You may still make a bundle whether you stake or not, and whether you mine or not.Whoever said miners do not like lawyers?