Two aboriginal groups in Canada have filed a C$900m ($876m) lawsuit in Montreal’s Superior Court against the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), in which Rio Tinto holds a majority stake.
The Innu communities of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and Matimekush-Lac John have filed an injunction against IOC to stop it conducting mining operations in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The groups have sought compensation for alleged environmental harm and displacing the communities from their traditional areas.
They say that the iron ore mining operations have made it hard for locals to gain access to fishing and hunting.
But Rio Tinto has defended IOC, stating that the company has always received the required governmental approvals and authorisations. "IOC will take all necessary measures to protect its rights and activities," Rio Tinto spokesman Illtud Harri told Reuters.
Development of resources has been causing friction between mining firms and Canada’s aboriginal communities in the last few months as they have increased their demands for greater control over mining and energy projects, and sought larger share in benefits.
Image: A laden truck deposits its load of ore into a pocket at Luce Pit in IOC’s Labrador site. Photo: Rio Tinto Company.