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Nickel company and First Nation set the ground rules for exploration

Class 1 Nickel and Matachewan First Nation ink memorandum of understanding
Class 1 Nickel Alexo Mine 2005
Alexo open-pit mine, east of Timmins, in 2005.

A Toronto junior miner, looking to put a former mine property back into production near Timmins, has struck an agreement with a neighbouring First Nation community.

Class 1 Nickel and Technologies and Matachewan First Nation (MFN) signed of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to advance exploration for nickel, copper and cobalt at the company's Alexo-Dundonald Nickel Sulphide Project, 45 kilometres east of the city.

A MOU is a first-stage agreement usually signed between an exploration company and a First Nation, establishing the ground rules for how exploration will be carried out on a community's traditional land. It also provides a formal line of communication as activity progresses and opens the door for a First Nation to participate in the project.

If a mine is established, the two parties will work toward signing an impact benefit agreement potentially offering opportunities for Indigenous-owned service and supply companies, for mining jobs and training, and financial compensation.

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“Class 1 Nickel proactively reached out to (Matachewan) as a traditional land holder in the Alexo-Dundonald Property area and engaged them in early dialogue on how the Project and associated infrastructure will be responsibly explored and developed,” said company president Ben Cooper in a March 11 news release.

“We are very pleased for the signed MOU with MFN and welcome their constructive consultation and strong support as Class 1 Nickel plans to commence its Phase 1 drill program on the Project.”

The First Nation community is 30 kilometres southeast of the town of Matachewan and 60 kilometres west of Kirkland Lake.

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Chief Jason Batisse commends the company on its decision to undertake early engagement and consultation activities.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with mineral development companies on our traditional territory who respect and acknowledge not only our way of life but also the importance of building a meaningful relationship within the community," he said.

"We are confident that Class 1 Nickel will operate using sound environmental practices and that the exploration activities will provide ongoing benefit to the community. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Class 1 Nickel and advancing the Alexo-Dundonald Nickel Sulphide Project.”

The company has $8 million budgeted this year to do extensive exploration and diamond drilling on its four nickel sulphide deposits at the property.

Plans are to start a preliminary economic assessment by the fourth quarter.

The 20-square-kilometre property contains a former open-pit mine that was closed in 2005 due to low nickel prices.

There's also a historical resource of copper, cobalt, platinum and palladium. The drilling program at the Alexo Mine was in 2011.

The company maintains that a significant portion of the property remains unexplored by modern techniques.