Aboriginal consultations lengthy but necessary step for mine development – by Jonathan Migneault (Sudbury Northern Life – September 21, 2015)

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KGHM makes progress with Victoria Mine

After many years of groundwork, KGHM’s Sudbury operations expect to submit a report to their parent company in Poland by the end of October to approve further development and production of the Victoria Mine, says the company’s local environment and community manager.

Ian Horne addressed the Canadian Institute of Mining Thursday about his years of experience negotiating agreements with local first nations regarding the mine’s development.

In 2010 the modernized Mining Act required mining companies operating in Ontario to consult with Aboriginal people before they could submit their mine closure plans to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

The mine closure plan is a necessary part of any mining project.  “Once you get involved in something like Aboriginal consultation you realize the value and importance of it,” Horne said.

While the First Nations he consulted with all had the same basic priorities – jobs, youth development, education and financial agreements – Horne said the negotiating process turned out to be a long and challenging process.

It took almost five years, for instance, to reach an agreement with the Sagamok First Nation – located 60 kilometres west of the project.

With the Atikameksheng First Nation – which is closest to the Victoria Mine site – negotiations halted for around a year before they resumed again.

“It took that break, almost, for both sides to calm down and understand what they needed to do,” Horne said.

Atikameksheng First Nation Chief Edward Miller said it was important to find solutions to disagreements between his community and KGHM.

“We would rather sit down at a table and start talking, and start seeing those differences,” he said. “Then we can come to a mutual understanding on how to work through those differences.”

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