Wawatay News is Northern Ontario’s First Nation Voice with offices in Sioux Lookout, Timmins and Thunder Bay. This article was posted on their website on January 26, 2011. James Thom is the Editor – [email protected]
For an extensive list of articles on this mineral discovery, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery
Marten Falls First Nation is planning another blockade in the Ring of Fire over concerns of a work camp set up near the community.
Chief Eli Moonias said protestors from his community will likely have the blockade set up within a week. The Ring of Fire is a chromite deposit in the James Bay lowlands. “This is our territory,” Moonias said. “If you want to set up a camp there you have to come and see us.”
Moonias said his community is concerned about a 40-man camp built on muskeg along Koper Lake and being used by mining companies KWG Resources Inc. and Fancamp Exploration Ltd.
Webequie Logistics, a company providing on the ground support for mining exploration companies working in the Ring of Fire area, built the camp. The company isn’t owned by Webequie First Nation, but is based out of Thunder Bay and owned by Clayton Downton and Sam Lapagge.
“Last fall they built a new camp by the lake … right on top of the water,” he said. The location of the camp is more suited for a temporary two- or three-man set up, Moonias said, adding the location is near a caribou herd.
“If you’re going to have 40 guys there working, you’re going to make a lot of mess there, right in the middle of caribou country.” Moonias said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ministry of the Environment have inspected the campsite.
“And they came out with a report saying it is OK,” he said. “And get this – it’s a 40-man camp on top of the water – and the government says it’s OK.”
A Ministry of the Environment spokesperson said greywater is being discharged from the camp. Greywater is wastewater generated from activities such as laundry, dishwashing and bathing. Operators have been asked to apply for approval to discharge greywater and to make sure it’s properly treated.
“Certainly it doesn’t contain any human sewage or anything that would cause immediate harm or threat to human health or to the environment,” said Kate Jordan of the Ministry of Environment’s communications branch. “But we did want to make sure that the proper conditions were in place and oversight were in place to make sure that anything that was being discharged was being done so properly and that it was being treated.” Jordan said the camp operators are preparing the application for a certificate of approval.
“Once we receive it, then we’ve committed to conducting a priority review of it,” Jordan said. “We are also sending staff up to the camp this week to do another inspection and to make sure that all of the practices and operations of the camp are protective of the environment.”
Jordan added that waterless toilet incinerators are being used to dispose of human waste by burning the waste. The MNR had placed a stop work order on the camp in December 2010.
“There were no permits issued for the Koper Lake camp in early November when we became aware of it,” said Jolanta Kowalski, communications service branch, MNR. “It was there before we even knew it was there, so we had a compliance inspection of the Koper Lake and Butler Lake camps at the beginning of December.”
Kowalski said the inspection showed the camp on Koper Lake was not in compliance with the Public Lands Act and the MNR’s free use policy, so the MNR ordered a stop work order under the Public Lands Act Dec. 16. “Now our enforcement people are investigating,” Kowalski said.
Lappage said the stop work order only applies to work being done on the camp site, not on the use of the camp by workers from nearby mining exploration worksites.
“It prohibits us from building any further structures at the camp,” Lappage said. “It doesn’t prohibit us from using the camp, which was stated in the MNR letter.”