KIRKLAND LAKE – A Northern Prospectors’ Association member is involved in a process that includes the Wabun Council and the provincial government, in an attempt to coming to some sort of resolution that will allow prospectors back to work in the bush.
John Rapski has mineral claims that fall within Wabum Council’s traditional land, and he has been consulting for an extended period of time, to try and get access to explore his mineral claims. Currently, he is still being held on the sidelines instead of prospecting and exploring for new mineral finds.
Rapski said the problem is the Wabum Council wants prospectors to sign the same agreement that would apply to mining corporations and this doesn’t work for prospectors. He said if a prospector sighns the agreement they are personally libel and the agreement doesn’t look after the individual prospector.
It appears to Rapski that Wabum Council has used a template that would be used to deal with mining corporations and is expecting individual prospectors to sign it, and take on the same liability as a mining corporation.
Now, Rapski said, everyone is realizing there isn’t any exploration taking place and because of this Wabun Council is getting backlash from the community, including hotels, gas stations and other businesses.
Rapski said he is able to keep his mineral claims in good standing because the province give him time extensions on the required assessment work, but at the same time no work is being done and exploration is in effect frozen.
Rapski said what he wants is for the First Nations to follow the accord and follow the treaties.
NPA President Gino Chitaroni said, what is taking place now, is divide and conquer. What we are saying to the government is follow the treaties and split the money with the First Nations.
A big part of the problem, Rapski said, is the public and First Nations don’t understand where mines come from, they come from prospectors. He continued that a five year interruption in exploration works out to a 15 year delay in the next new mine.
Chitaroni said in Rapski’s case he is dealing with one First Nation, but the rules could be very different dealing with another First Nation in a different part of the province. As well he doesn’t see the prospectors’ problems stopping with prospectors. In the future you might need to tell First Nations where you are going fishing, he said, adding this type of thing is already happening to wind farms.
This whole idea doesn’t bode well for exploration, said Chitaroni. He continued that if prospectors aren’t working there will be no new mines.
According to Rapski, the Huron Robinson Treaty says the First Nations, government and prospectors are partners, and there is to be no interfering with prospecting for minerals.