Aroland has rejected the open pit mine proposed by Premier Gold Mines Limited near Geraldton over environmental concerns, including destruction of a 16-acre lake.
“My First Nation is generally supportive of sustainable mining development,” said Aroland Chief Sonny Gagnon. “Premier Gold wants to destroy Begooch Zaagaigan, a lake that supports our Aboriginal fishery. They just put a number on this lake – A-322 – and tell us they’re going to fill it in with mine waste. This is one of the worst project proposals I’ve ever seen. They’re going to seriously impact our lands and resources. Such a large and destructive project should receive the maximum examination possible – but instead, very little is being done under provincial or federal environment assessment laws. And virtually nothing has been done to consult with and accommodate the many serious concerns of Aroland First Nation.”
Aroland called on the federal government to hold a Panel Study Environmental Assessment on the project and the provincial government to hold a full Individual Environmental Assessment.
“It is shocking to me how much damage Premier Gold intends to cause and what it seems to want to get away with by avoiding scrutiny from environmental laws and Aboriginal consultation,” Gagnon said. “It is unclear whether Ontario will require more. We urge the Ontario government to use its laws to protect the environment, the water and our rights.”
The Matawa First Nations community also expressed concerns that “only three of the many First Nations in the watershed” are being consulted.
“Aroland will not let this mine get approved based on the poor consultation and assessment record to date,” Gagnon said. “We have the right to meaningful consultation and accommodation – and we will stand up for it.”
Premier Gold did not reply to a request for comments before Wawatay went to press, but the North American-focused exploration and development company did announce the commencement of the formal Environmental Assessment and permitting process for the open pit mine in a May 15 press release.
Premier Gold had earlier reported the discovery of a potential higher grade core at the open pit mine site on March 26.
“Drilling at Hardrock continues to demonstrate strong continuity within the open pit resource and suggests the existence of potential higher-grade mineralization within several lenses including the recently identified North Wall Zone,” said Stephen McGibbon, executive vice-president of Premier Gold.