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Thunder Bay palladium company inks exploration agreement with three First Nation communities

Potential mine development could provide benefit for northwestern Ontario Indigenous bands
Clean Air Metals core shack
(Clean Air Metals photo)

A Thunder Bay palladium company has signed an exploration agreement with three First Nations.

Clean Air Metals, Fort William First Nation, Red Rock Indian Band and Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek announced last week that they’ve advanced their ongoing relationship with a signed exploration agreement. A year ago, all the parties signed an initial memorandum of understanding concerning the company’s Thunder Bay North project.

The area, 50 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, contains two deposits that are on the traditional lands of the participating First Nations. The palladium project has been steadily advancing to the point where it looks to have mining potential. 

Before Christmas, the company released a preliminary economic assessment of its Thunder Bay North project estimating a 10-year mining life of its Current deposit, the more advanced of the two deposits on the property. Exploration still continues of its nearby Escape deposit where the company is finding platinum, palladium, copper, nickel and other potentially payable metals.

Clean Air Metals has not yet made a decision to build an underground mine.

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Building on the last agreement, this latest one formally establishes a framework for a “mutually beneficial relationship” to keep the lines of communication open. The parties agree to identify any adverse impacts of a mine on First Nations interests and rights, design appropriate measures to mitigate any negative effects, and take the approach to enhance all the positive benefits of such a development.

Should the Thunder Bay North project go into development and become a mine this agreement sets the stage for future negotiations of an impact benefit agreement with all the First Nation communities.

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In a statement, Red Rock Indian Band Chief Marcus Hardy expressed his appreciation for the company’s commitment to “equity, diversity and inclusion.” 

“Sustainable development by Clean Air Metals of the critical minerals platinum, palladium, copper and nickel found at the Thunder Bay North Project will allow our youth and young adults to address climate change and participate meaningfully in the global transition to cleaner forms of energy."

Abraham Drost, Clean Air Metals CEO, said his company “pledges integrity and meaningful consultation and accommodation with affected First Nation communities and commends the Participating Communities for their vision around sustainable regional economic development."

The company said in the release that it’s still following COVID-19 protocols and using PPE measures for geological staff, the drilling contractors and service suppliers. To date, Clean Air said it’s had zero occurrences of the illness.