ELKO, Nev. (AP) – A judge has ordered opponents of Barrick Gold of North America’s huge gold mine project at a northern Nevada mountain to list Western Shoshone tribal members who have visited the site for religious purposes.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert McQuaid Jr. issued the order May1 at the request of Toronto-based Barrick, the world’s biggest gold mining company.
“The alternative is dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims under the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act,” Barrick spokesman Lou Schack told the Elko Daily Free Press.
Western Shoshone and conservationists have sued in an effort to halt the 6,700-acre Cortez Hills project at Mount Tenabo, about 250 miles east of Reno.
Another federal judge refused their request to block the project, but their appeal is pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Among other things, the plaintiffs argue the mountain holds religious significance to the Western Shoshone people, and the project violates the religious act.
Barrick sought the names, addresses and phone numbers of every Western Shoshone who ever visited Mount Tenabo for religious purposes.
The company contends few, if any, Western Shoshone visited the site before they learned about the Cortez Hills project.
Lawyer Roger Flynn, who represents the plaintiffs, said the order doesn’t require as extensive a list be given.
Flynn also said even if the tribes give up claims under the religious act, they are still moving ahead with their lawsuit over environmental concerns.
He said the sacred site issue could be pursued under environmental laws and orders without citing the religious act.
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