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Pickle Lake gold explorer signs exploration pact with First Nation

AuTECO Minerals makes Mishkeegogamang Ojibway First Nation a company owner
Chief David Masakeyash of the Mishkeegogamang Ojibway First Nation and AuTECO Chief Executive Officer Darren Cooke at the signing ceremony (Supplied)

Pickle Lake gold hunter AuTECO Minerals has signed an exploration agreement with Mishkeegogamang Ojibway First Nation revolving around activity at the Pickle Crow Gold Project.

The Western Australian junior mining company said in a news release that this new agreement replaces a 2009 memorandum of understanding. This one covers all of the company’s claims on the traditional land of the First Nation. The pact sets the stage for an impact benefit agreement should AuTeco decide to put the property into gold production.

Mishkeegogamang is now a part owner of the company as AuTECO has issued five million shares to the community fund.

A recent investor presentation said 30 per cent of its workforce at its exploration camp, a 10-minute drive from the Pickle Lake Airport, is Indigenous.

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In a statement, Chief David Masakeyash said the agreement represents the “strong and mutually respectful relationship that has resulted from our engagements.”

“In this agreement, we have developed a strong framework for the protection of our land, and certainty our members will fairly benefit from the work undertaken. Each of these qualities are fundamental to building a relationship with our nation.” 

AuTECO CEO Darren Cooke paid tribute to chief and council “for the spirit in which the discussions have taken place.”

“We will continue to respect the land, tradition and culture of the First Nations peoples whilst doing our best to share the economic and social benefits of our investment in the Pickle Lake area. 

“This is just the beginning of the partnership. With the Mishkeegogamang becoming shareholders of AuTECO, the community will benefit from our ongoing success at Pickle Crow.” 

AuTECO’s claims are on a mineralized greenstone belt that AuTECO believes has open-ended gold potential. Pickle Lake has historic roots in gold mining with the company running exploration programs in and around the former Pickle Crow gold mine.

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The near-term prospect is finding new ounces near Pickle Crow, a high-grade gold operation that ran between 1935 and 1966 producing 1.5 million ounces at an average grade of 16.1 grams per tonne. It was one of Canada’s highest grade gold mines.

Through drilling, the company is seeking to increase an inferred mineral resource of 2.23 million ounces with an average grade of 7.8 grams per tonne.

Further out, with 500 square kilometres of claims at its disposal, AuTECO believes the property has enormous long-term prospects with the potential to find multiple gold deposits. They’re currently running a 50,000-metre drilling program and expect to release an updated gold estimate early in the new year.