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First Nation strikes benefits deal with Marathon mine builder

Generation Mining anticipates construction start of open-pit project in early 2023
Generation Mining site map 2
Conceptual of Generation Mining's open-pit palladium and copper project, north of Marathon (Company rendering)

The developers of Marathon-area open-pit project have struck a community benefits agreement (CBA) with a neighbouring First Nation on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Toronto’s Generation Mining announced Nov. 14 that the membership of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (formerly Pic River) has approved a community benefits agreement involving the construction and environmental safeguards of the proposed Marathon Palladium-Copper Project owned by Generation PGM.

The agreement, ratified by the community on Nov. 12, describes the benefits the community will receive from the project and details how the project’s impacts on the community will be mitigated.

The details of these agreements between mining companies and Indigenous communities are usually kept confidential, but the news release said Gen Mining is making commitments concerning environmental management of project, employment, training and education for community members, spinoff business opportunities, social and cultural support, and financial participation.

Construction could create as many as 1,000 jobs and approximately 400 mining jobs once the pit goes into production. 

Gen Mining has been out raising money for its $665-million mining project while awaiting word from Ottawa and Queen’s Park on the approval of an extensive environmental assessment study of the development.

In a news release, the company anticipates a favourable decision as it’s expecting to start mine construction late in the first quarter of 2023 once the required permits are in hand. The main deposit is 10 kilometres north of Marathon.

In a statement, Gen Mining President-CEO Jamie Levy was pleased to seal the deal.

“We will work closely with them to ensure benefits accrue to BN in the form of employment and training opportunities, financial participation, and business and contracting opportunities, all while maintaining a shared focus on environmental protections for the Biigtig Zibi (Pic River) and other areas that may be impacted by the project.”

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Chief Duncan Michano called the ratification a “significant milestone” in the community’s relationship with the company.

“We encourage other companies who seek to work on our territory to follow the Generation PGM example in consulting with us at all stages of project development. This project has the support of myself and our band council, as well as our community which approved the CBA (the agreement) through a recently completed ratification vote, and we look forward to working with Generation PGM as they develop the project and bring it into operation.”

The pit has a projected mine life of 13 years but the company is confident of finding additional mineral resources on its massive 22,000-hectare property located on the outskirts of the town of Marathon.

Over its operating life, the proposed mine is expected to produce 1,905,000 ounces of palladium, 467 million pounds of copper, 537,000 ounces of platinum, 151,000 ounces of gold and 2,823,000 ounces of silver