Exploration company hopes agreement between First Nation, province helps gold project proceed

A company with mineral exploration licences in northeastern Manitoba near the Ontario boundary says it hopes that the recent completion of a consultation protocol between the provincial government and Manto Sipi Cree Nation (MSCN) bodes well for its planned activities.

BWR Exploration holds exploration rights in the Little Stull Lake gold project area, which lies within the traditional territories of both MCSN and God’s Lake First Nation (GLFN). The company hopes to complete a two-phased exploration drilling program early next year and again in the summer. The area, which consists of 20 mining claims covering 28.4 square kilometres,  was first drilled by Westmin Resources in the mid to late 1980s and then again by Puma Exploration Inc. in 2007. BWR Exploration says the Little Stull Lake gold zone is a similar geological environment to that of the Monument Bay deposit 15 kilometres to the southwest.

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BWR, then known as Black Widow Resources Inc., acquired the Little Stull Lake gold project from Puma in 2016, though the two companies recently amended that acquisition agreement because BWR has not yet spent $1.5 million on exploration activities, largely, it says, due to lack of permission to explore the property. 

The company has held meetings with GLFN, including a  community gathering in Gods Lake Narrows in November 2018 arranged by the consultation co-ordinators for the community and for Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade. That was followed by another meeting last December and one in Gods Lake Narrows in January 2019. The January meeting was held at the request of community elders, BWR said, and an opportunity for them to voice concerns about early stage exploration in their traditional area. Among the issues any exploration agreement must address is the fact that some of the company’s mining claims are in areas covered by treaty land entitlement (TLE) claims. Under Treaty No. 5, which MSCN and GLFN are signatories or adherents to, the First Nations were entitled to 160 acres of reserve land for each family of five, but they have not yet received that much land and have the right to select unoccupied Crown lands to be converted into reserve status.

BWR said it provided access to its exploration camp to a survey crew determining the boundaries of GLFN’s TLE selection, which is in the same area as eight of BWR’s 20 mineral claims. The access was provided as a show of good faith.

Following the provincial government’s announcement in November that it had completed a consultation protocol agreement with MCSN, which reportedly addressed outstanding issues regarding exploration on MCSN TLE areas, BWR said it anticipates ongoing consultations with MCSN and eventual creation of exploration partnership agreements with both First Nations. While consultation is ongoing, exploration should be able to proceed under an early stage work permit, the company says, making it possible for BWR to undertake an exploratory drilling program in the first three months of 2020.

MCSN is located in Gods River and GLFN in Gods Lake Narrows about 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. Both are only accessible by air apart from during the winter road season.

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