A mineral exploration company is receiving $300,000 from the provincial government to help fund its drilling program in Manitoba’s remote northeast.
BWR Exploration said in a Jan. 7 news release that it learned Dec. 30 that it would be receiving the funding from the Manitoba Mineral development Fund once it provides confirmation of required permits and licensing for the proposed exploration and of additional funding.
“We are pleased to see that the Manitoba government shares BWR’s vision of the economic potential that the Little Stull Lake area has, that can create near and long-term jobs for the nearby communities of Gods River and Gods Lake Narrows, thus strengthening the provincial economy and establish mutually rewarding partnerships between Indigenous communities and mineral exploration companies designed to stand the test of time,” said BWR’s CEO Neil Novak.
The money will be used to upgrade an existing exploration camp to meet COVID-19 pandemic requirements for housing up to 15 people. BWR is proposing that this work be done in partnership with Manto Sipi Cree Nation (MSCN), which hopes to create a community-owned camp and exploration service company to work with mineral exploration companies.
BWR took two members of MCSN to the camp in October while they were conducting a cleanup program. All remaining fuel drums at the site, which has been dormant for 12 years, were checked for leaks and safely stored in a temporary poly berm. Soil samples were also collected around the fuel storage area to check for contamination and one MSCN member visited several of the proposed historical drill sites with BWR’s geologist to learn about what kind of environmental disturbance exploratory drilling results in and what historical drill sites look like after a decade of natural regrowth.
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 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.
Following the provincial government’s announcement in November 2019 that it had completed a consultation protocol agreement with MCSN, BWR said it anticipated ongoing consultations with MCSN and eventual creation of exploration partnership agreements with it anf GLFN. Among the issues any exploration agreements 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 of 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 to reserve status.
A successor program to the Mining Community Reserve Fund (MCRF), which was intended to provide assistance to mining communities affected by shutdowns due to ore depletion as well as support mineral exploration in Manitoba, the MMDF is funded by a $20 million initial contribution from the provincial government as well as up to six per cent of of annual revenues under the Mining Tax Act. Communities, businesses and organizations including Indigenous groups, municipalities and not-for-profit entities can apply for funding and assistance can include one-time grants for activities to advance new mining opportunities and outreach to First Nations for collaborative resource development. The fund is administered by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) and aligns with the priorities of the provincial government’s Look North task force and action plan for the Northern Manitoba economy, which identified mineral development as important to the long-term economic prosperity of the province and highlighted the importance of building stronger partnerships in the north to advance economic growth and development.
“Advancing mineral exploration projects is critical to creating lasting economic benefits to communities in Northern Manitoba,” said Manitoba Chambers of Commerce CEO Chuck Davidson.