Chief and Council are pleased to announce the signing of a Protection Agreement with NioBay Metals Inc. regarding NioBay’s early exploration project in the South Bluff Creek area. The Protection Agreement will protect the environment while recognizing our community’s rights and interests in our Homeland. The purpose of the Protection Agreement is to ensure that all exploration activities will meet environmental standards and best practices and respect Moose Cree First Nation’s relationship with the land.
Chief and Council held information sessions regarding the Protection Agreement on November 18, 2019 and December 16, 2019. Chief and Council have specifically sought the input of traditional land users and other community members and continues to welcome community feedback regarding the NioBay project.
NioBay’s test drilling will take place between January and March 2020 and proceed only during the winter months to minimize environmental disturbance. As directed by community members, NioBay will access their drill sites exclusively by helicopter and will not place any strain on winter roads or trails.
NioBay received a permit in January 2019 to drill 8 test holes in the Moose Cree First Nation Homeland near South Bluff Creek. They now intend to drill only 7 holes, each about two inches in diameter. They want to test for deposits of the mineral niobium, which is used in electronics and to strengthen steel. A different mining company previously drilled over 80 holes in the same area in 1968 and 1969.
NioBay’s project is still at the early exploration stage. They are not currently seeking to build a mine. Instead, NioBay is doing test drilling to determine if a mine could be profitable if proposed in the future. Years of further study and many additional permits would be needed before any mine could be built. The Protection Agreement includes a binding legal commitment from NioBay that it “will not proceed without the support of the Moose Cree First Nation” to build any mine in the Moose Cree Homeland.
An independent environmental study ordered by Chief and Council has concluded that the drill holes proposed at this stage of development would have almost no risk of causing negative impacts on the environment if properly planned and carried out. The Protection Agreement includes detailed commitments by NioBay to ensure that occurs, including through the employment of a Moose Cree First Nation site monitor.