In 2009, Premier Gold announced an aggressive $8 to $10-million exploration program with the goal of reporting a NI43-101 compliant mineral resource estimate of 1 million to 1.5 million ounces of gold.
“We made contact with both First Nations, showed them what we were doing and moved on to negotiate a memorandum of understanding,” said Premier Gold president Ewan Downie. “They took the attitude that they wanted to be included in any opportunities for employment. They wanted to be a partner.”
Employment opportunities at the Hardrock Project are currently limited because the company is still focused on exploration, but members of the First Nation communities have been hired to work in the company’s core shack and to conduct a water sampling program. Others were hired for stripping and channel sampling and for ice road construction, said Downie. The company has also covered tuition costs for a young woman from Ginoogaming who enrolled in a diamond drilling course and offered her employment upon graduation.
Most promising, however, is Ginoogaming’s interest in getting into the mining business itself and staking claims on and around the reserve.
“They have favourable geology on their lands and we have an agreement in principle to assist them in exploration,” said Downie. “I thought this was a huge step forward for them. If they find a mine on their reserve, good for them.”
Rasevych applauds Premier Gold for reaching out to Ginoogaming.
“First Nations were never consulted in the past. It’s only in the last few years that government put out an edict that they have to consult.
Twenty, 30, 40 years ago, they put roads through on top of graves.”
The memorandum of understanding signed in July 2009 commits the two parties to work toward negotiating an impact benefit agreement if a decision is made to develop a mine.
“You’re looking at up to $300 million to start a mine and that’s going to create 300 or 400 jobs, so I imagine Ginoogaming would look at getting more work,” said Rasevych.
Downie, a veteran of the mining industry in Northern Ontario, says honesty and openness are the best way to build trust.
“I used to run an exploration service company and most of the people who worked with me were First Nation people, so I’ve been working with First Nation people for close to 20 years.
“Just be honest,” he said. “If there’s mud coming out of your drill near a lake, show them. We have hay bales and cofferdams set up. Say this is what we’re doing to try to trap anything from getting into the lake.
Also, “take the time to get to know the people,” said Downie. “Try not to make everything too formal. Try to make opportunities to get together socially. If it’s friendly, things will work out a lot better.”
- Just be honest
- Take the time to get to know each other
- Try not to make everything too formal
- Make opportunities to get together socially