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Community support is vital, Frontier Lithium official says

Company reps engaging communities on details of lithium project north of Red Lake
Frontier Lithium's Pak Project is about 175 kilometres north of the municipality of Red Lake. (Photo by Frontier Lithium)

Community consultation is a key part of Frontier Lithium’s big project in northwestern Ontario, a spokesperson for the Sudbury-headquartered mining company said June 27.

“We actually have been really out there in communities, ramping up our engagement and consultation and information sharing about the project over the last six months,” Clara Lauziere, Frontier’s sustainability director, told Dougall Media.

“We know that community members have strong feelings about mining, as they should. And what we’re trying to do is share more information to encourage and spur dialogue like we’re hearing and seeing in the petition.”

The petition she’s referring to is a petition, launched on May 31, to stop the PAK project. It has collected more than 12,500 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, with a goal of 15,000 signatures.

Lauziere said Frontier welcomes dialogue about the project at Pakeagama Lake, which aims to extract lithium from land straddling the traditional territories of three First Nations.

But some concerns are based on misconceptions about the project, she added.

“There’s some misinformation out there ... in terms of the type of mining that we’re proposing to do and what those impacts are,” Lauziere said.

The mine is being designed for low water consumption and minimal “discharge of contaminants” into waterways, she said.

As well, she added, “We’re not proposing a refinery in the region. We’re proposing just to concentrate, mill it, crush it into smaller pieces and take it out of the region.

“So there’s some of those, I think, facts about what we actually do, what we’re actually proposing to do. We need to do maybe a stronger job in communicating those things to community members.”

Lauziere said Frontier Lithium has met with chiefs, councils and community members in all the First Nations involved — and consultation sessions in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, where some members reside, may be in the future.

Nevaeh Rae, the Sandy Lake First Nation member who started the online petition, said she would be interested in attending a session in Thunder Bay.

She currently lives in Thunder Bay, where she is completing a university degree.

Sandy Lake is one of the First Nations whose traditional territory overlaps with Frontier’s PAK property. The others are Deer Lake and North Spirit Lake.

Keewaywin First Nation also has historical ties to the land and is recognized by the province and Frontier as an impacted community.

Frontier signed exploration agreements with Deer Lake and Sandy Lake in 2016, and with North Spirit Lake in 2017.

— NWOnewswatch