Exploration agreement between First Nation and mining company a significant step, province says

The provincial government says the signing of an exploration agreement between Yamana Gold Inc. and Red Sucker Lake First Nation (RSFLN) regarding the Monument Bay gold-tungsten project is a significant step forward.

 “It’s a pleasure to be here today to celebrate this historic agreement,” said Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen in a Sept. 13 press release. “Strategic partnerships between First Nations and industry are a positive way of ensuring First Nations can be active partners in all phases of mineral development, to create and share in the benefits of growth. Mineral development in the north is a major part of the long-term prosperity of the region. By building respectful partnerships with First Nations to sustainably develop northern resources, our work to advance reconciliation continues.This new agreement supports a key recommendation of the Manitoba-First Nations Mineral Development Protocol, which states that improving relationships through engagement and enhanced community participation is essential to advancing mineral development projects.”   

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The Monument Bay project is 340 kilometres southeast of Thompson, 60 kilometres northeast of Red Sucker Lake and 100 kilometres east of Gods Lake Narrows. It consists of 136 contiguous claims totalling 338 square kilometres and was estimated to contain 2.9 million ounces of gold in 2014 by its former owner Mega Precious Metals. Yamana purchased Mega Precious Metals in June 2015. The company said in 2016 that a winter drilling program was successful in intersecting significant gold mineralization on the projected trends in 20 out of 27 holes drilled. Monument Bay is Yamana’s first 100 per cent-owned project in Canada.

“We are pleased to be working with the province and Red Sucker Lake First Nation to advance our Monument Bay project,” said Yamana executive chairman Peter Marrone. “While we are at the exploration stage only, our objective remains to complete the required work toward development of a mine. This will take time and require considerable effort from us and co-operation with various rights holders and stakeholders although we are committed to pursuing our objective of developing business enterprises in northern Manitoba and, in particular, areas that are part of traditional territory of Red Sucker Lake First Nation.”

“The council of Red Sucker Lake First Nation and I are proudly encouraged to achieve this significant mineral exploration agreement with Yamana Gold Inc.,” said RSFLN Chief Samuel Knott. “This agreement ensures the protection of our treaty rights when companies like Yamana Gold want to develop the land and resources within our traditional territory. We would like to thank our elders, community members, Yamana, the Manitoba government and Ishkonigan for their support in achieving this historic agreement.” 

The Monument Bay project made headlines about five years ago when then RSFLN chief Les Harper along with RSLFN councillors and citizens issued a stop work order and eviction notice at the mineral exploration camp on July 1, 2013. Mega Precious Metals was granted a temporary injunction by the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba to continue exploration work related to the Monument Bay project two days later. The following spring, RSLFN sent an open letter to Premier Greg Selinger in response to an April 14 letter informing the First Nation's leadership of the provincial government’s decision to extend the company’s mineral exploration work permits by six months.

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