10/23/2012 03:26 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST

Panel reserves decision on whether it can hear Jackpine constitution challenge

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - A regulatory review panel has reserved decision on whether it will hear a constitutional challenge of Shell's application to expand its Jackpine oilsands mine in northern Alberta.

The federal-provincial review panel could decide by the end of the week if it will deal with the issue or if it must go before a court. The panel could also leave the question until after hearings on the Jackpine proposal are complete.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, which filed the challenge earlier this month, claims Shell Canada and the Alberta government didn't do enough to consult with the band in the project's design. The First Nation says it will be difficult to exercise treaty rights to use the land for traditional activities if changes aren't made.

Chief Allan Adam said Tuesday he doesn't want the hearings to proceed.

"We're not totally against the development, but we're totally against the process by how the federal the government is dealing with First Nations issues here in Canada," he said.

"As long as we fail to continue to (consult) ... First Nations will continue to oppose their projects here in his region.

"We've had enough."

Hearings on Shell's expansion proposal are to begin on Monday.