Update for Membership
February 19, 2020
Chief & Council are monitoring closely as NioBay Metals Inc. conducts early exploration drilling in the South Bluff Creek area. NioBay has a permit to drill seven (7) test holes, each about two inches in diameter (about the width of a pop can). Moose Cree First Nation has entered a Protection Agreement with NioBay to protect both the environment and our community’s rights and interests in our Homeland during the drilling program.
Under our Protection Agreement, a Moose Cree First Nation site monitor has been and will continue to regularly visit the drilling site throughout the drilling program to monitor NioBay’s activities, including the transportation of drilling machinery, at each of the seven holes.
We can currently provide the following update regarding NioBay’s activities:
• NioBay began drilling its first hole on February 7, 2020;
• NioBay has now drilled three (3) holes as of February 18, 2020;
• NioBay is beginning to drill its fourth drill hole on February 19, 2020;
• All drilling should be completed well before the agreed deadline of March 31, 2020.
The Protection Agreement requires all transportation of people, equipment, and supplies in and out of the drilling site to be conducted only by helicopter.
NioBay is not accessing the drill sites with ground transportation.
Chief & Council thank community members who have reported seeing a NioBay sign on the Wetum Road. That sign was not authorized and will be removed and replaced with an unmarked flag. It marks the entrance to an emergency trail that is not intended to be used and would only be accessed if a rescue is needed in circumstances where helicopters are unable to fly. We have discussed the sign with NioBay and they have apologized for erecting it without our consent.
NioBay is conducting its test drilling to search 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 & Council concluded that the test drilling will have almost no risk of causing negative impacts on the environment if properly planned and carried out, as required by the Protection Agreement.