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Mining company collaborates with Thunder Bay-area First Nations

Clean Air Metals Inc. pledges 'meaningful consultation' with Fort William, Red Rock Indian Band and Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek.
Clean Air Metals cropped map
Clean Air Metals' Thunder Bay North project is located about 50 km northeast of the city (Clean Air Metals Inc.)

THUNDER BAY —A company that's exploring mining claims in the Greenwich Lake and Tartan Lake area northeast of Thunder Bay says it has advanced its working relationship with three area First Nations.

Clean Air Metals Inc. hopes to develop platinum/palladium/copper/nickel deposits around its Thunder Bay North Project, about 50 kilometres from the city.

The property is accessible via logging roads branching off Highway 527, and is roughly 70 kilometres from Impala Platinum's Lac des Iles mine.

Fort William First Nation, the Red Rock Indian Band, and Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (formerly Rocky Bay First Nation) assert that the site is within their traditional territory.

In 2011, the company signed a memorandum outlining the protocol for its communications with the three First Nations.

Now, in a joint announcement, the parties say a more recent Memorandum of Agreement has established a foundation for collaboration as Clean Air Metals consults with the First Nations to identify:

  • potential impacts of the project on the First Nations' interests and rights
  • the appropriate measures to mitigate and avoid any adverse effects
  • opportunities to enhance positive impacts and beneifts

The parties say the MOA also sets out initial economic accommodation for the First Nations in the form of what's known as a warrant instrument.

The company will issue each of them one million warrants for the right to purchase common shares of Clean Air Metals.

The warrants will expire in five years.

As the project progresses, the parties agree to negotiate an Exploration Agreement and a Community Impacts Benefits Agreement.

Clean Air Metals CEO Abraham Drost said the company acknowledges that its project is subject to Aboriginal traditional and treaty rights.

"The company pledges integrity and meaningful consultation and the hope of achieving community consensus around sustainable regional economic development opportunities," Drost said.

Peter Collins, the Chief of Fort William First Nation, said the participating communities "appreciate the commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion that Clean Air Metals has demonstrated to date." 

Collins added that the work site at the Thunder Bay North Project "is clean and safe, the workers are happy, and the company hires aboriginal."

He noted that the company has also expressed interest in helping Fort William First Nation youth learn more about mining.

"Clean Air Metals is the type of company we can get behind and we look forward to a productive working relationship with them," Collins said.

Jim Gallagher, the former CEO of North American Palladium – the previous owner of the Lac des Iles mine – is now the executive chairman of Clean Air Metals.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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