PATTEN — The head of a Canadian mining company has defended comments in which he touted the state of Maine as a good place to do business because of a lack of rights for tribal groups.

Wolfden Resources wants to develop a precious minerals mine in rural Maine. The chief executive officer of the company, Ron Little, has faced criticism recently because of comments he made during a 2019 presentation to investors in which he said there are “no indigenous rights in the state of Maine” and that “streamlines the permitting process.”

The Natural Resources Council of Maine, which opposes the mining project, shared the videos with Maine tribes, the Bangor Daily News reported. Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis has described the statement as “obviously not an accurate comment.”

Little told the Bangor Daily News that the statements were taken out of context and his company reached out to Maine tribes more than a year and a half ago. He told the Daily News he made the comment to investors because “one of the biggest risks is that the Indigenous community might have a veto to not allow a project.”

The mining project needs state approvals to go forward.

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