A golden opportunity has been announced with an agreement between Wahgoshig First Nation in Northern Ontario and the Apollo Gold Corporation.
Representatives from Wahgoshig and Apollo Gold, a major gold mining and exploration company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a new working relationship at the First Nation administration office on January 23.
The agreement provides a framework for communications and interim benefits for the First Nation with the development of the Black Fox project. The project is an early-stage gold mining initiative by Apollo Gold Corporation located 10 kilometres east of Matheson, Ontario. It is situated on lands over which Wahgoshig First Nation has asserted treaty and aboriginal rights.
“This is a great day for Wahgoshig First Nation and I congratulate their leadership and the representatives from Apollo Gold for their hard work and effort in making this possible,” said Shawn Batise, Executive Director of the Wabun Tribal Council. “Other companies need to take note of the developments that are happening here in Wahgoshig First Nation. Our First Nations need a sense of ownership and a share of the benefits that are taken from their lands.”
Wahgoshig Chief Dave Babin is hopeful that this initial signing will be the start of a beneficial relationship between his community and Apollo Gold.
“It feels good to know that a major corporation such as Apollo Gold is developing a working relationship with our community and taking an interest in the issues that are affecting our people,” said Chief Babin. “We have a large youth population in our community and our hope for the Black Fox development is that it will create employment and other opportunities for our young people.”
Deputy Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler gave credit to the leadership of Wahgoshig First Nation and noted that this is a good example of First Nations becoming more involved in what happens on their territories.
“Wahgoshig First Nation leadership worked hard to establish a good relationship with Apollo Gold and now they will be able to negotiate meaningful benefits for their First Nation,” said Fiddler.
The Black Fox Project is currently in a feasibility study stage with a projected start to actual development scheduled for early 2008. The company is planning on the creation of an open pit mine combined with underground mining and an onsite milling facility. The project is expected to generate a mining facility that will process 1,500 long tonnes per day.
R. David Russell, President and Chief Executive Officer for Apollo Gold Corporation, was on hand to sign the agreement and meet with community representatives.
“This Memorandum of Understanding is an important document that will lay out the future development of the Black Fox Project,” said Russell. “We believe that it is important that we develop positive relationships with the communities we are working with in relation to our mining projects.”
The Apollo Gold delegation also included Richard F. Nanna, Senior Vice President, Exploration and Development. He explained that part of the development of exploration projects includes the participation of local people who will be affected.
“It is good that we have the local community participate in developments that will affect their future. A good relationship with the community can only mean benefits for both parties in the creation of these projects,” said Nanna.
Part of the process in permitting development of a mine site in Ontario includes conducting meaningful consultations with First Nations. Apollo Gold started communications with Wahgoshig First Nation in August 2004 to negotiate land issues and benefits.
Ryan Lougheed, Project Manager, Apollo Gold has been actively involved in developing the agreement. “The Black Fox Project will provide the community of Wahgoshig First Nation the opportunity for training and employment as well as local community development. Our company will also benefit by being able to tap into a local labour force and additional resources that the First Nation has to offer such as equipment operators and assistance with lands and resources issues,” said Lougheed.
Once the Black Fox Project is ready for production, new negotiations will establish an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA). IBA negotiations will include such topics as employment, training, business opportunities and financial compensation.
Also attending the event was Maurice Kistabish, Head Negotiator for Wahgoshig First Nation and Doris Odjick, Economic Development Programs Officer, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Thunder Bay.
A SIGN OF FRIENDSHIP was symbolized by the exchanging of gifts of artwork between representatives from Wahgoshig First Nation and Apollo Gold Corporation. From left to right are: R. David Russell, President and Chief Executive Officer for Apollo Gold Corporation and Chief Dave Babin, Wahgoshig First Nation.
GIFTS WERE EXCHANGED in First Nation tradition during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Wahgoshig First Nation and Apollo Gold Corporation. From left to right are: Richard F. Nanna, Senior Vice President, Exploration and Development, Apollo Gold; Ryan Lougheed, Project Manager, Apollo Gold; R. David Russell, President and Chief Executive Officer for Apollo Gold; Elder Noel Diamond, Wahgoshig First Nation; Chief Dave Babin, Wahgoshig FN; Maurice Kistabish, Head Negotiator for Wahgoshig FN and Shawn Batise, Wabun Tribal Council.
FIRST NATION DELEGATES were on hand to witness the signing of the Memorandum Of Understanding between Wahgoshig First Nation and Apollo Gold Corporation. Picture from left to right are: R. David Russell, President and Chief Executive Officer for Apollo Gold; Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Nishnawbe-Aski Nation; Elder Noel Diamond, Wahgoshig First Nation; Shawn Batise, Executive Director, Wabun Tribal Council and Chief Dave Babin, Wahgoshig FN.
THE HEAD TABLE at a signing event held in Wahgoshig First Nation included representatives from Wahgoshig First Nation and Apollo Gold Corporation. Pictured from left to right are: Ryan Lougheed, Project Manager, Apollo Gold; Richard F Nanna, Senior Vice President, Exploration and Development, Apollo Gold; R. David Russell, President and Chief Executive Officer for Apollo Gold; Chief Dave Babin, Wahgoshig First Nation and Maurice Kistabish, Head Negotiator for Wahgoshig FN.
ARTWORK FEATURING NATIVE THEMES were part of a gift exchange between delegates during the signing of the Memorandum Of Understanding between Wahgoshig First Nation and Apollo Gold. Picture from left to right are: R. David Russell, President and Chief Executive Officer for Apollo Gold Corporation and Chief Dave Babin, Wahgoshig First Nation.