An Inuvik area man is calling foul about three stockpiles of mineral ore totalling over 100,000 cubic metres in volume he says disappeared from the Navy Road gravel pit sometime over the past few years.
Todd Shattler has been in an ongoing dispute with town of Inuvik over his quarry claim since around 2006, when administrative control of the pit was transferred to the town. Shattler had a claim to mine and explore for minerals on the land from around the same time.
“It’s never been a good scene since the start,” said Shattler. “I think the biggest problem is we were fighting for a quarry permit in the beginning. But we’re there for minerals. You got to generate some income somehow to continue a search, so our business plan was to have some quarry sales ourselves.”
Problems between the prospector and the town continued into 2013 when the matter was brought before the Supreme Court. In the June 26, 2013 ruling, Justice Louise A. Charbonneau ruled Shattler had the right to explore in his claim area, so long as he gave the town 24 hours’ notice he would be there. The judge also ruled the town or its contractors were not to remove his equipment or stockpiles and that the Shattlers to not have the right to deny anyone else access to Navy Road quarry.
But the judgment did not conclude the matter. Shattler told the Inuvik Drum following the ruling, he came across a regulation in the Mines Health and Safety Act that he believes permitted him as the manager of the mine to allow access to his claim area.
“I wasn’t stopping them from coming into the quarry, I was stopping them from coming in and quarrying where I gave notice of where we were working,” he said. “The town came down three times in 2013, right after court with the RCMP and they didn’t get anywhere because I was in the right. I videoed the conversation and I asked the Staff Sgt. ‘Are you a judge?’ and he said ‘We’re done here’ and left.”
But problems continued for the prospector until he and his wife decided to take a break, though their claim remained in effect.
“We had too much anxiety to go back and work at the claim, but the claim is in good standing until 2039,” he said. “I couldn’t get anyone to go down there with me and I wasn’t going to go alone. These guys went nuts on us.”
Now, after serving the town notice he intends to return to the site and began exploration again, Shattler returned to his claim to discover something missing.
Three stockpiles of over 100,000 cubic metres that had been left in the claim had mysteriously disappeared.
“The whole issue is where did these stockpiles go?” said Shattler. “No one is capable of taking that much material and there was no project within the boundaries of town that I know of in 2017 that would use that much material.
“I have a picture from a website from 2017 and (the stockpiles) are there, and then in 2018 they’re not. And there was no quarrying in 2018, so they must have gone missing in the latter half of 2017.
Town of Inuvik SAO Grant Hood said it was a legal matter and the town could not comment. A letter sent to Shattler from the town’s lawyers reads that “the Town has no knowledge regarding the alleged removal of Stockpiles described in your letter. The Town only issued one quarry permit in 2017, a redacted copy of which is attached.” The redacted permit allows for 3,000 cubic metres to be removed from the town pit. The letter also notes the town informed the applicant both verbally and in writing.
However, Shattler said he’s not convinced.
“We’re talking five to six hundred truck loads and the town’s trying to tell me they don’t know who took it,” said Shattler. “I can’t even leave there with a pebble and they take me to court.”
Shattler would not say what exactly he thought he had found at the site, except that it was a precious metal.
“We didn’t get around to testing these stockpiles because of the chasing us around and all that, we didn’t go back,” he said. “And they’re gone now, so I don’t have enough evidence that there was an economic amount in those stockpiles, because they’re stolen.
“But that’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is they’re missing. If the Town is claiming they don’t know where it went, why haven’t they started an investigation? We’re talking a lot of material.”