The chief of Webequie First Nation says the situation with junior mining company Noront Resources Ltd was all a misunderstanding.
Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse voiced his disappointment when Noront announced they would be delaying their feasibility study following Cliffs Natural Resources decision to move its ferrochrome plant to the Sudbury area.
Noront had been working on a feasibility study for its deposit containing copper and nickel. The company was proposing an east-to-west, all-season road that would run from Pickle Lake to the Ring of Fire area. But the company believes the province might be making an eventual commitment to the north-south road proposed by Cliffs.
That decision is a major factor in the delay.
While the series of events may have led to some friction between the First Nation community and Noront, Wabasse said they will remain open to development and continue to work with the company.
“We like to be open about misunderstandings and we would like to work with the industry and the government and hope to resolve any issues that we have to resolve,” Wabasse told reporters on Friday.
“For one thing, we have to go to the media and let the public know that we are working with the industry but sometimes there are some misunderstandings. What’s being misunderstood is how we work together and how we work together. Our concerns aren’t being addressed.”
He said all parties are responsible when moving forward on development projects.
Webequie, 540 kilometres north of the city of Thunder Bay, is the closest community to the discovery areas in the Ring of Fire and it has more than 700 community members.
Wabasse said that dealing with all the mining companies has been a learning experience.
He added that Webequie is becoming a staging ground for development and that makes it important to build relationships and understand the industry and the government.
“We’re asking the industry to have an agreement with us because they are on our traditional territory,” he said.
“We’ve been working with the industry from the begging, trying to get them to have an agreement with us so we can work together.”
The first step will be a letter of intent and from there a Memorandum of Understanding and an IBA, he said.