Big Grassy Exploration Permit Session Notes
September 16, 2020 11:30 am – 12:35 pm
Big Grassy FN Pow-wow Grounds
Big Grassy FN Attendees:
Romeo Duguay, Ryan McAleer, Robert Archie, Daryl Archie, Marcus Hunter, Tim Archie, Teresa Andy, Karson Andy-McGinnis, Hailey Copenace, Virginia Archie, Susan Archie, Marlene Indian, Joseph Andy, Glenn Archie, Fred Archie, Alayla Paypompee, Charmaine Hunter
New Gold Attendees:
Darrell Hyde (Exploration Manager), Renee Boucher (Community Relations Manager), Bethany Borody (Director of Sustainability), Ginger Bragg
− Robert Archie opened the meeting with a prayer.
− Romeo Duguay (RD) welcomed everyone and advised the group that that the exploration permit applied for is pre-development. If further development of the area is pursued, more permits would have to be secured from the various ministries which would initiate another consultation process.
Exploration Presentation (information presented by Darrell Hyde (DH)):
− DH provided 2 maps to define the area that NG has applied for exploration permits and provided an overview of the plans for the diamond drilling program. Map 1 showed the RR mine site and the location of the proposed drilling in the permit application; Map 2 is an enlargement of the proposed drilling area in Map 1 and provides further detail of the proposed drilling sites.
− DH noted that this is very early stage exploration and it is not known if anything will be found.
− The permit is required for the diamond drilling; surface sampling was previously done to help determine the locations of these areas. 19 diamond drill holes are proposed. If possible, DH would like the drilling to start this fall, but it would likely be a fall/spring program to drill all 19 holes.
− The impact on the geography would involve some road making, though there are some existing roads; the diamond drill is quite large and would need to be brought in. A dozer would clear an area for the drill at the drill site; the drill is stabilized, water is pumped in from a local water source (water is recirculated); a sump will be put in to provide a space for the waste water to settle in so it does not drain everywhere or into waterways. The wastewater at the sump is made up of rock dust and will settle. When drilling is complete, the equipment is removed, and the sump filled in. The site will be left clean.
− There is some proposed stripping/trenching; this would involve an excavator. The excavator takes up the soil surface, washes it with water to see what is there. DH does not anticipate there will be much of this activity as there is very little soil at this location.
− RD – are there other mining stakes in the area? DH – yes, however, the map only shows NG’s as required by the permit application. NG owns the mineral rights but not the land.
− Glenn Archie (GA) – are other communities being consulted with? Does NG require BGFN’s permission? RB – other communities will be consulted with (have just started the process). Bethany Borody (BB) – this meeting is to ensure that NG is proactive and communicating in a collaborative way. This is all part of the consultation process for attaining the permit as well as when NG has the permit.
− GA – what kind of approval process are you looking at? BB – we would like support for the drilling program and to partner in a way to provide benefit to both sides in a mutual collaboration.
− GA – Consultation has been a big issue (from previous work experiences); what will be done about trapping and hunting grounds? BB – it is very important for NG to know these kinds of things and figure out ways to still permit these uses. For example, are there certain times of year that these activities or migrations take place? The permit allows preliminary work, no infrastructure is being built.
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− GA – There is a moratorium on new mine claims because of land claims. Why was this permit submitted? BB can follow-up on this, but these were existing claims dating back to when the company was Nuinsco and Rainy River Resources. There are no new mine claims in this application. DH – there was a permit application made in 2013 but was subsequently withdrawn.
− GA – How far does BGFN’s approval go with the government? For example, similar to pipeline issues, would BGFN be setting a precedent with their approval? BB – These are conversations that we are in the process of regarding the importance of approvals and the impact on the land when we come into the community. NG wants to be transparent and improve the was we communicate with communities as this is important and is increasing in importance. DH – the purpose of the permit is to avoid surprises and not have companies acting in bad faith. Industry and government have improved upon past practices.
− GA – Consultation on federal and provincial permits – First Nations are being consulted with on how things should be improved and BGFN is helping, but are these agreements being honoured? For example, past treaties. BGFN has significant distrust of the government and treads carefully and will look at the legal impacts of their decisions on other First Nations.
− Tim Archie (TA) – Is this the first meeting of this proposal? Has this been discussed with MDC? RD – MDC has a financial stake but the communications between NG and BGFN will follow the protocols set up in the Participation Agreement (PA). BB – There was information provided to the JIC about exploration prior to submission of the application, back in the summer of 2019. RD – the application process began back in February 2020; there have been delays due to COVID. RD commented that NG has been following the spirit of the agreement and is treating BGFN like partners.
− Virginia Archie (VA) – what will the impact be on the water tables? DH – the proposed work would have minimal impact (i.e. water pumped from creek for use; used by drill; then pumped to sump to settle). BB – If development is done at a future date, studies would need to be done to assess the environmental impact, i.e. a full, comprehensive Environmental Assessment (EA). RD commented that no development would happen without many other approvals in place.
− GA – Is the current EA being revisited by the government? BB – the Closure Plan Amendment (2017) was just approved; there are frequently updates to the EA and any changes are communicated to government then shared with FNs.
− RD – if there was future development based on the exploration findings, would a new PA be required? BB – if there is future development, this would require an addition or amendment to the existing PA.
− RD asked for the group’s general opinion on the information provided today. RD commented that this application is pre-development and is low impact and support was likely. RD will bring forward to Chief and council for discussion. BB – NG will follow up with the ministry and can also have future conversations between NG and BGFN