Evidence of meeting #27 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was going.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Wes Hanson  President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.
  • Kirk McKinnon  President and Chief Executive Officer, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.
  • Ian Brodie-Brown  President and Chief Executive Officer, AurCrest Gold Inc.
  • Elijah Moonias  Marten Falls First Nation
  • David Kilgour  Councillor, City of Greater Sudbury

10 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

Maybe I can best illustrate the answer to your question this way. Just as an analogy, OPG approached us about five years ago. They said they were going to do a study on the Albany River for further development. There's development already at Lake St. Joseph. There's a dam there. The river is diverted west from there into the Wabigoon and English River system into Manitoba to the Winnipeg River.

They said they wanted to come and look at Cat River--that's a site 40 miles down from us--and Hat Island further down, to see if they could develop that potential. We said, “Okay, fine; go there and do your study.”

Then our people began to question us about it. They asked what we were doing and if we were planning to work with these people and put a dam there.

OPG offered us revenue-sharing from the system once it would be in place. Presumably that would bring capital, well-being, nice houses, and stuff like that, maybe even jobs for some people once we were to agree to that.

Then we began to question. Was it worth it to do that, destroy the river some more, stop the sturgeon from swimming? The sturgeon have done that for 300 million years. Do we have the right to do that, to further disturb that, just because we want to be comfortable? Just because we want a job and a nice house, do we have the right to do that? As aboriginal people, can we say we have the right to do that? We have certain principles that we follow with Mother Earth.

That same question applies to the development here.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Thank you, Chief.

Thank you, Mr. Anderson. You're out of time.

We go now to Mr. Rafferty. You have up to five minutes. Go ahead, please.

February 16th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Thank you very much, Chair. I'm happy to be here today. I have many family members in the mining engineering field. I have a daughter who works out in the mining industry in B.C., and I'm a resident of Northern Ontario, so I'm pleased to have this opportunity to be here today.

I'll start at that end of the table and see how far I can work down in five minutes. Feel free to keep your answers brief if you wish.

Mr. Hanson, we've heard about roads. We've heard about transportation, electrical lines and so on, east-west and north-south. Can I ask you why Hudson Bay was not considered as a viable route for shipping?

10:05 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

Wes Hanson

Basically our analysis indicated that James Bay was too shallow to accept vessels of sufficient draft to be able to reduce shipping costs dramatically.

Noront's situation is a bit different from that of Cliffs and some of the other companies in the Ring of Fire. We're only looking at shipping 150,000 tons of concentrate a year. We could do that easily through a combination of a concentrate pipeline and a permanent road.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

You mentioned Sudbury as a destination for processing. Can I ask you why Thunder Bay or maybe even Nakina is not considered as a possible processing site?

10:05 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

Wes Hanson

We would certainly consider those areas if we were building our own ferrochrome facility, but there's already smelter capacity available in Sudbury for nickel, which is what we're producing, so it's less of a footprint.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Does the price of electricity in Ontario cause you some concern?

10:05 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

Wes Hanson

Both on a personal and a professional level, yes, it does.

10:05 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

10:05 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Thanks for that.

Mr. McKinnon, what is your personal understanding of treaty rights and traditional lands? I'm leading to another question.

10:05 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.

Kirk McKinnon

It's really a mixed bag. I think it's a very honourable thing, but I think the problem is that the communities themselves are at a crossroads with how the older people view their land and their association with the land.

I have great friends in Kasabonika, the Semples, Harry and Jodie. Before we started to drill, we went out to the site and held hands and said a prayer; it was a special time. I understand the reverence they have for the land. It's difficult for the chief, because he has so many different factions and views.

The issue for us is the development that has to happen in order to bring the benefits that I think would accrue, and I think that's what you were looking for. That can't be held up, or nothing is going to happen. I come back to my original request—

10:05 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Actually, that's the second part of my question, if I can ask it.

10:05 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.

Kirk McKinnon

I don't want to leave that.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

You talked about the urgency. How would you go full steam ahead with first nations partners right now if you had the chance? You had some good suggestions.

10:05 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.

Kirk McKinnon

One of the issues is that if we're going to make them equity partners, then we have to have that kind of clarification come from the government, which then allows us to go back to our shareholders and the stock exchange and have that validated.

I have an exploration company that's made some terrific discoveries in Madagascar. At some point, we're going to have to give them a piece of the pie. We're not familiar with that situation or how much that should be or whether it should be a stepping process, etc., so maybe we're back to the rules again.

I don't begrudge doing that. If we can get the magnitude of the discovery—and I'm just speaking of James Bay—to a level where the native communities would get an appropriate amount of money to do the training and things of that nature, they're only going to move themselves forward, but they're going to have a fight in the community between the older people and how they view the land and the younger people who want to work. That's a tough one.