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Mining company, First Nation leadership end dispute

A Thunder Bay-based junior mining company’s three-month dispute with Constance Lake First Nation is over.
Aubrey Eveleigh, president and CEO of Zenyatta Ventures Ltd., points out an area of dispute, known as the Albanry Project. The company on Monday finalized an agreement with Constance Lake First Nation that will allow the junior mining firm's exploration plans to go ahead. (Leith Dunick,
A Thunder Bay-based junior mining company’s three-month dispute with Constance Lake First Nation is over.

Aubrey Eveleigh, president and CEO of Zenyatta Ventures, said the agreement was finalized on Monday, a deal which will give his company the right to proceed with the Albany Project, a claim staked about 45 kilometres west of Hearst.

In return they’ve made concessions to the First Nation community of 1,400, including preferential consideration for job opportunities and contributions to a fund to benefit Constance Lake’s elders and youth.

“We’re quite happy that it’s over with now and we’re both moving forward to help explore in the area known as the Albany Project,” Eveleigh said.

“We tried to get an agreement early in January and we delayed our project by two months. We decided had to go ahead. This wasn’t supported by Constance Lake, that we proceed with the exploration. So they eventually filed an injunction in Ontario Superior Court to try to stop us.”

Eveleigh added all the while the two sides remained in negotiations to come up with a solution.
The Albany Project, located a few hundred kilometers south of the bountiful Ring of Fire project, is thought to be rich in several minerals, including copper, platinum and palladium.

“We always like to have the support of the community nearby, whether it’s First Nation or otherwise, and this provides that in reaching this agreement,” Eveleigh said.

Eveleigh called on the province to step in with protocols that might prevent future disputes like this one from arising.

He said it was frustrating time for the company and its investors, which include Cliffs Natural Resources, who intend to explore the area for the next year or so at least, depending how successful the mining turns out to be.

“The frustrating part about this is we are a junior mining company, with a grassroots exploration project. So we don’t actually have anything. We’re going out to seek something, to find something. So it’s really frustrating that it took this long for a junior mining company to reach this agreement,” Eveleigh said.

“Zenyatta Ventures was frustrated by the fact that we had to take the lead on this. I really feel that the Ontario government needs to take the lead with establishing protocols for companies like ours. The outside investor needs to have some certainty on their investment dollar.”

Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle was unavailable for comment, though his office did email the following comment to

"This is another positive example of the potential benefits a community and a company can achieve by putting agreements such as this in place. I wish both partners all the best as they move forward to see this economic opportunity provide benefits for everyone in the future,” Gravelle said.

Constance Lake First Nation Chief Roger Wesley was not immediately for comment when contacted at his office on Monday afternoon.

The band website’s home page does contain a notice to mining and exploration companies, telling them they must “contact us prior to conducting any exploration or staking within our traditional territory.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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