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Canadian First Nation, with rare sway over mining, puts Newmont on notice



By Jeff Lewis

TORONTO (Reuters) – A First Nation group in Canada‘s British Columbia province has put top gold miner Newmont Corp on notice that it is unlikely to gain buy-in for a gold and copper project, amid concern that mining will encroach on a local town.

The pushback by the Tahltan First Nation carries extra weight due to the group’s outsized influence in its territory, in contrast to similar groups who oppose mining elsewhere.

That authority may complicate efforts by U.S.-based Newmont to develop its early-stage Tatogga project, acquired in March in a $311 million buyout of GT Gold.

“It’s going to be a sensitive discussion with the nation,” Tahltan Central Government President Chad Day told Reuters.

Residents of nearby Iskut, about 1,600 kilometers north of Vancouver, worry the Newmont project will limit their ability to hunt caribou and bring more industry to an area that already includes Newcrest Mining’s Red Chris copper and gold mine.

The Tahltan nation has unique powers due to a combination of land rights, legal clout, financial heft and the ability to conduct their own economic and environmental assessments on projects in their territory.

Miners from Teck to Rio Tinto have signed consent agreements with the nation, whose business arm spans aviation to mining.

“There’s no doubt that they have a very powerful say in whether or not projects proceed in their territory,” said Merle Alexander, principal at with the indigenous law group at Miller Titerle and a hereditary chief of the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation.

Tahltan territory covers about 11% of the Pacific province and sits on an estimated 50.6 million ounces of gold and 12.5 billion pounds of copper, according to data mapping provider DigiGeoData.

Like some other British Columbian groups, the Tahltan Nation never ceded territory to European settlers, in contrast to groups elsewhere who ended up relinquishing title to their lands through treaties.

Aboriginal claims to traditional territories in British Columbia were bolstered by a landmark 2014 Supreme Court ruling.

Newmont owns stakes in other undeveloped mineral deposits in Tahltan territory, which remain years from development.

“Clearly, if the community does not want the resource development, we’re not going to be there,” Newmont spokesman Nick Cotts said, adding the U.S. miner is committed to working with the Tahltan to address concerns.


The Tahltan nation has not shied away from using its power in the past.

In 2012, the nation opposed a coalbed methane project proposed by oil major Royal Dutch Shell, prompting the company to relinquish land tenures.

Three years later, Fortune Minerals sold coal leases in the territory, after the group threatened the miner with expulsion.

Such clout is in sharp contrast to the experience of indigenous groups elsewhere. Last year, Rio Tinto destroyed Aboriginal cave sites, with the affected indigenous population having little recourse to block it.

To be sure, the nation, who historically mined obsidian for weaponry and tools, support some mining provided it is on their terms.

Exploration spending last year in the territory topped C$200 million ($162.40 million) with production from three active mines valued at more than C$1.2 billion, according to the nation. Many Tahltan work in the industry and the nation has revenue-sharing agreements with the government for projects.

That economic heft makes it difficult for other indigenous groups to emulate Tahltan’s assertive approach to development, lawyers and First Nation leaders said.

“We don’t have to make huge cultural sacrifices to have a thriving economic environment in our territory,” Day said.

Last month the nation vowed “all actions necessary” to stop exploration by junior miner Doubleview Gold Corp on ancestral lands.

The dispute reflects long-standing grievances with the provincial government which grants mineral claims over the internet.

Legal experts said that approach is inconsistent with principles around getting First Nations consent. A similar approach in Yukon was found to breach the government’s legal duty to consult indigenous groups.

British Columbia consults at a later stage of mine development, a spokesman for the provincial mines minister said.

Doubleview says it has valid permits but takes local concerns seriously. A study it commissioned found exploration would occur in an area of “low archaeological potential.”

Day said the Tahltan are crafting a land-use plan to prohibit exploration in ecologically and culturally sensitive areas, giving the nation greater control over who can stake mineral claims and where.

“All of those resources belong to Tahltan,” said elder Allen Edzerza, who leads efforts by the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council advocacy group to reform the province’s mining laws.

“It’s not (the province’s) right to give those away.”



(Reporting by Jeff Lewis in Toronto; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Basketball trailblazer denied Canadian permanent residency, must return to U.S. –



Bilquis Abdul-Qaadir, the trailblazing basketball player who set up an academy for girls and coached multiple sports at an Islamic school in London, Ont., has been denied permanent residency in Canada and will have to go back to the United States. 

“We’ve been here for two years, my son is Canadian, and we would love to be part of this country, but we finally got the message from immigration that we were denied permanent residency. It’s very unexpected,” said Abdul Qaadir from her London home. “I’m at a loss for words. I’ve single-handedly brought sports to an underserviced community. It’s heartbreaking.”

Abdul-Qaadir and her husband, A.W. Massey, moved to London from Tennessee three years ago.

She said she hasn’t been able to work in Canada since August, when her work permit expired and wasn’t renewed by a Canadian border official. 

“We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do. We aren’t sure. We’re angry and we’re tired. We put our heart and soul into this application. We felt like we checked all the boxes.” 

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and her husband, A.W. Massey, moved to London, Ont. three years ago from Tennessee. (Submitted by A.W. Massey)

Abdul-Qaadir led a four-year battle against the International Basketball Federation, which banned religious head coverings on the court. She won, but sacrificed her basketball career to do so.

She had been the leading high school point scorer for both boys and girls in Massachusetts, and went on to play for the University of Memphis in Tennessee, where she was the first woman to play in a hijab in NCAA Division 1. 

Alongside her motivational speaking gigs, she teaches at the London Islamic School and has opened a basketball academy in London, but all that is now up in the air. 

On Thursday, Abdul-Qaadir got a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that said she doesn’t “meet the requirements for immigration to Canada.” 

She applied for permanent residency as an athletic director at the London Muslim Mosque, but her duties — including developing, managing and supervising the school’s physical education and athletic programs, as well as being the head coach for the basketball, volleyball and cross-country teams — are “inconsistent with the actions” of an athletic director. 

“I am not satisfied that your stated duties is sufficient to indicate that your role involves plan, organize, direct, control and evaluate the operations of comprehensive fitness programs at this organization. I am also not satisfied that you performed a substantial number of the main duties for this [job classification],” IRCC wrote in her letter.   

Abdul-Qaadir said she doesn’t know if she and her husband will fight the refusal. 

Abdul-Qaadir set the state record for the highest all-time high school scorer for men and women in Massachusetts. ( Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photographer)

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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Mastercard expands cryptocurrency services with wallets, loyalty rewards



Mastercard Inc said on Monday it would allow partners on its network to enable their consumers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency using a digital wallet, as well as reward them with digital currencies under loyalty programs.

The credit card giant said it would offer these services in partnership with Bakkt Holdings Inc, the digital assets platform founded by NYSE-owner Intercontinental Exchange.

Founded in 2018, Bakkt went public earlier this year through a $2.1 billion merger with a blank-check company. Shares of the company were up 77% at $16.19 on Monday.

Mastercard said its partners can also allow customers earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of loyalty points.

The company had said in February it would begin offering support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year.

Last year, rival Visa Inc had partnered with cryptocurrency startup BlockFi to offer a credit card that lets users earn bitcoin on purchases.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, touched a record high of $67,016 last week after the debut of the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange traded fund. It has more than doubled in value this year.


(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to work in Shenzhen, after extradition drama – Global Times



Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, returned to work at the tech giant’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday after almost three years fighting extradition to the U.S. in Canada, state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Times reported.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, completed three weeks of quarantine last week after returning to the southern city of Shenzhen where a crowd of well-wishers chanting patriotic slogans awaited her at the airport.

“Over the last three years, although we have struggled, we have overcome obstacles and our team has fought with more and more courage,” she said in a speech at an internal company event that was circulated online.

The extradition drama had been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.

Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

She was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors last month to end a bank fraud case against her.


(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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