A Thunder Bay palladium junior miner has signed an early-stage cooperation and development agreement with three area First Nations in northwestern Ontario.
Clean Air Metals signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Fort William First Nation, Red Rock Indian Band, and the Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (formerly Rocky Bay First Nation) revolving around exploration activity at the company's Thunder Bay North project. The almost-30,000 hectare exploration property sits on the traditional territories of these three communities.
The company is running a 30,000-metre drill program at its Thunder Bay North Project, where two palladium deposits – Current Lake and Escape Lake – have been identified in the vicinity of Greenwich Lake and Tartan Lake.
The Thunder Bay North Project is located 60 kilometres southeast of Impala's Lac Des Iles Mine and 40 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Highway 527 cuts through the western portion of the project area.
In what's considered an advanced stage exploration project, drilling on the property is returning very promising high-grade results of palladium, platinum, copper and nickel. The company thinks there's potential for an underground mine.
The MOA is the first step in establishing a formal relationship and opening up a line of communication between the company and the communities with regards to upcoming activities, environmental safeguards, and down-the-road potential to bring economic opportunities and benefits to the First Nations should a mine be developed.
In a Jan. 11 news release, the company said the next step will be to draw up an exploration agreement for May followed by a community impact benefits agreement. The latter occurs when a mine is about to go into operation.
What's included in this initial agreement is the opportunity for each participating First Nation to become shareholders in Clean Air Metals.
As consideration for working with the company in the design and development of a mine, Clean Air Metals will issue to each First Nation one million warrants to purchase common shares in the company.
Fort William Chief Peter Collins welcomed the company's commitment to running a clean and safe site, and its willingness to hire and train Aboriginal people.
"Clean Air Metals is the type of company we can get behind and we look forward to a productive working relationship with them."
"Clean Air Metals acknowledges that the Thunder Bay North and Escape Lake project areas are subject to Aboriginal traditional and treaty rights which are protected under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, Canada," said company CEO Abraham Drost in a statement.
"The company pledges integrity and meaningful consultation and accommodation with affected First Nation communities in the hope of achieving community consensus around sustainable regional economic development opportunities."