Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation Says Mining Agreement Ensures Fair Share for First Nation

By Carl Clutchey

Journalist of the Local Journalism Initiative

MARATHON, Ont.-With an environmental hearing on a proposed palladium and copper mine just six weeks away, the project’s developer announced Thursday what it called “an important milestone.”

A memorandum of understanding between Generation Mining and the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation aims to ensure that the Aboriginal community in the Marathon area receives a fair share of the economic benefits the mine is expected to bring to the region.

“The agreement establishes a solid foundation for us to work collectively with Generation Mining on a number of business opportunities,” Biigtigong Nishnaabeg COO Debi Bouchie said in a press release.

“This facilitates a process to ensure that our First Nation can and will capitalize on economic opportunities during critical stages of mine development.

If the mine project is approved, possibly in early summer, Generation Mining plans to build a $655 million surface mine just north of Marathon. The mine is expected to operate for 13 years and create approximately 400 direct jobs.

On March 14, an independent review panel appointed by the provincial and federal governments is scheduled to hold a 30-day hearing on the proposal.

The hearing was scheduled to start in February but was delayed due to COVID-19 complications.

Under the agreement between Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Generation Mining, the two parties were to, among other things, “collaborate”

on community enterprises.

They would also target and support ventures that include training Biigtigong Nishnaabeg members and “supporting (the first

Nation) in their current and (future) sustainable business growth strategic goals,” the press release reads.

The agreement “also defines some of the contractual projects that will be awarded to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg to further maximize economic benefits for the Marathon Project’s closest partner Indigenous community.”

In the same press release, Generation Mining’s Toronto president, Jamie Levy, said the company “appreciates Biigtigong Nishnaabeg’s support for the development of the Marathon project.”

“We are proud to be partners with (the First Nation) and look forward to continued collaboration in the years to come,” added Levy.

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg has a similar deal with Barrick Gold, which operates the nearby Hemlo gold mine.

Also this week, Generation Mining said it had completed a transaction that gives it 100% ownership of the Marathon project.

As part of the transaction with the South African Sibanye-Stillwater, the latter retains a 19% stake in Generation Mining.

Carl Embryey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works for THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

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