Laurion Mineral Exploration Inc. has executed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) for collaboration on mineral exploration and mining in the traditional territories of three Northwestern Ontario First Nations.
The agreement is with Animbiigoo Zaagi'gan Anishinaabek (AZA), Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (BNA), and Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (BZA) First Nations
All three are located in the Lake Nipigon region.
Toronto-based Laurion says the MOU is the first step in establishing a framework for regular communication and for setting the ground rules to mitigate against the environmental impacts of exploration and mining.
Frank Hardy, the lands and resource coordinator for BZA (formerly known as Rocky Bay First Nation), said community members have traditionally hunted, fished, picked berries and gathered herbs and medicines in the area.
"With many mining and exploration companies starting or wanting to start projects...we recognize that we are all the stewards of the land, and we believe it's out duty to try our hardest to protect what's dear to us," Hardy said.
The consulting coordinator for AZA, Kyla Morrisseau, said the First Nation has built a strong relationship with Laurion over the last decade.
"The approach to how Laurion operates in partnership with First Nations should be emulated across the board in every project that enters our territory," Morrisseau added.
She said "there is always an achievable balance between mining activities, economic opportunities and environmental protection."
Laurion's flagship holding is the 100 per cent-owned Ishkoday Gold Project, located about 220 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay near Beardmore.
Company CEO Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin said the MOU is the start of what she hopes will be a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with the three First Nations "as we work towards the shared goal of unlocking the potential of the project."