NioBay Metals Inc. (NioBay) is a mining company exploring for minerals in the Moose Cree Homeland. Later this month, NioBay will begin an early exploration drilling program near South Bluff Creek. Chief & Council are pleased to announce that Moose Cree First Nation has signed a new Protection Agreement with NioBay to govern that drilling program.
Key details about the Protection Agreement and NioBay’s drilling program:
The drilling program is expected to last up to 16 weeks. NioBay will be drilling 20-30 test holes, each about the width of a pop can, to look for deposits of the mineral “niobium.” Niobium is used in electronics and to strengthen steel.
NioBay’s project is still at the early exploration stage. NioBay is currently not building a mine but drilling to determine if a mine would be feasible. The Protection Agreement includes detailed terms to protect both the environment and our community’s rights and interests in our Homeland during and after the drilling program.
As part of the Protection Agreement, NioBay has made a legally binding commitment that, no matter what results it gets from its drilling, it will not proceed without the support of Moose Cree First Nation to build a mine in the Moose Cree Homeland in the future.
Chief & Council are committed to ensuring that our community has all the information needed to make informed decisions about any potential resource development in the Moose Cree Homeland. The current drilling program will provide knowledge that will help NioBay determine whether a mine could be profitable enough to build and, if so, will help the Moose Cree community determine whether to allow a mine to proceed.
NioBay first obtained an exploration permit in 2018 without consulting Moose Cree First Nation, because the previous Chief & Council refused to engage with them or the government of Ontario. This just resulted in losing our voice in the process.
Since the current Chief & Council began engaging with NioBay in 2019, the company has now signed two Protection Agreements, covered Moose Cree First Nation’s costs of engagement, and committed to only proceed with Moose Cree support. We are asserting and developing our rights and opportunities in our Homeland.
Chief & Council have approved NioBay’s request to access the drill sites by building a temporary winter road over existing trails. Unlike NioBay’s last drilling program, which involved only seven holes, it is less feasible to access the 2021 drilling sites by helicopter. Overland access will create less environmental disturbance and pollution while also creating jobs for Moose Cree community members. Some helicopter access may also be necessary while the access road is being constructed and in the event of bad weather or other special circumstances.
The Protection Agreement requires NioBay to hire Moose Cree businesses and members to work on the drilling program wherever possible. NioBay is working with four Moose Cree contractors on the winter road.
An independent environmental study ordered by Chief & Council in 2019 concluded that the type of drilling that NioBay is conducting has almost no risk of causing harmful impacts on the environment if properly planned and carried out (report available on request). The Protection Agreement requires NioBay to meet strict environmental standards and provides funding for Moose Cree First Nation to directly monitor the drilling program.
More updates will be provided later. If you have any questions, please contact Chief Mervin Cheechoo at .