'Landmark' agreement signed over Ring of Fire
Ring of Fire Metals is taking the next step toward critical mineral development in northern Ontario with Webequie First Nation.
The mining company and First Nation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Tuesday "outlining a framework for collaboration on the proposed development in the Ring of Fire," located in the James Bay lowlands.
Webequie First Nation Chief Cornelius Wabasse (left) and Ring of Fire Metals Acting CEO Stephen Flewelling (right) sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Ring of Fire mineral development in northern Ontario. Dec. 6/22 (Supplied)
"The MOU details how the two parties will work together to progress ongoing exploration activity in the region as well as negotiations on a partnership agreement for the proposed Eagle's Nest mine," Ring of Fire Metals said in a news release.
The landmark agreement is an "important step forward" in the long-standing relationships between the two groups, the company's acting CEO Stephen Flewelling said in the release, and "signifies a formal transition to a new phase of collaboration."
"As leaders and critical decision-makers, we have a social responsibility with our members and that is to find ways to sustain our community through long-term relationship agreements that will bring and foster livelihood," Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse is quoted as saying in the release.
"We are exercising our sovereignty and the right to pursue economic sustenance in a manner that respects the land and brings opportunity for our young people."
Flewelling said Indigenous communities should play a central role in the development of resource projects on their traditional territory.
"Canada has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop the critical minerals the world needs to decarbonize," he said.
The Eagle's Nest project is one of the largest undeveloped, high-grade nickel-copper-platinum-palladium deposits in the world and has an expected 11-year mine life, with the potential to extend an additional nine years.
In April, Ring of Fire Metals was officially sold by Noront Resources to Australian-based Wyloo Metals.
Also in April, Webequie completed terms of reference with Marten Falls First Nation on the proposed Northern Road Link environmental assessment.
The Northern Road Link would connect two proposed roads, the 200-kilometre Marten Falls to Aroland Community Access Road at the south end and the proposed 110-kilometre Webequie Supply Road to the Ring of Fire at the north end.
Proposed Ring of Fire access roads (Ontario Government)
"This proposed road is the final piece of critical road infrastructure needed to ensure reliable, all-season road access to potential mining sites in the Ring of Fire and connect both First Nations communities to Ontario’s highway network," the province said in a news release.
The two First Nations are leading the planning of the road project dubbed the 'Corridor to Prosperity' in partnership with the province, which has committed nearly $1 billion "to support critical legacy infrastructure such as the planning and construction of an all‑season road network, and investments in high-speed internet, road upgrades and other community supports."
Ring of Fire: 'Landmark agreement signed with First Nation | CTV News