* Communities seek injunction, C$900 million damages
* Iron Ore Co of Canada has operated for more than 50 years
* Rio is considering a sale of its majority stake -sources
March 20 Two Canadian aboriginal communities
have filed a C$900 million ($877 million) lawsuit against a
subsidiary of Rio Tinto , saying on Wednesday
that more than a half century of iron ore mining has disrupted
their traditional way of life.
The Innu communities of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and
Matimekush-Lac John have asked a Quebec court for an injunction
against the operations of Rio's Iron Ore Company of Canada unit
in Quebec and Labrador, as well as an estimated C$900 million in
Rio Tinto spokesman Illtud Harri said in an emailed
statement that Iron Ore Co (IOC) has always received required
governmental approvals and authorizations. "IOC will take all
necessary measures to protect its rights and activities," he
He added that the communities involved are "important
Rio, one of the world's largest mining companies, owns a 59
percent stake in IOC, Canada's largest iron ore producer. It
recently hired investment banks to sell its stake, two sources
familiar with the matter said in early March.
Matimekush-Lac John Chief Réal McKenzie said in the release
that his community is not opposed to all mining, and has signed
agreements with other companies. But the group has not been able
to reconcile with IOC and Rio Tinto, he said.
In recent months, Canada's aboriginal activists have stepped
up demands for more control over mining and energy projects, and
a greater share of benefits from resource development.
A grass-roots aboriginal protest movement known as Idle No
More staged demonstrations and blocked roads and rail lines
across Canada late last year and early this year, in part to
call attention to the improverished living conditions of many
aboriginals, especially in remote communities.