Mining companies are squabbling over who will get control of the $4-billion-plus nickel deposit at Voisey Bay in Labrador, an ancestral burial spot for the Innu and Inuit peoples of the area.

Inco Ltd., which controls 30 per cent of the world’s nickel production, finally succeeded with a $4.3-billion takeover of the deposit at the beginning of April.

Meanwhile, the local First Nations continue to be shut out of a voice in deciding what will happen to their lands. The land where the deposit is has never been ceded in a treaty. Already, mining companies have erected a small town in the area to exploit the deposit, which is the world’s largest.

The company which made the find, Diamond Fields, is owned by Robert Friedland, who has had a checkered past with previous mining projects, including massive spills of cyanide at mine sites in the U.S. and Guyana.