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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

10:15 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, AurCrest Gold Inc.

Ian Brodie-Brown

Again, with the advent of Webequie owning the drill company, both companies on my left use Cyr Drilling and employ first nations people from that community.

Going back to the question on electronics, I'd be happy to start a company that deals with training aboriginals in those technical skills. I'm not going to, but somebody will. Then we'll partner with them, because the jobs are all there. They are very significant, high-paying jobs. As for the transfer and where they can go afterwards, Canadian drillers, as we all know, work all over the world. They are highly sought after. Our mine expertise has always been sought after. We're everywhere.

In the situation we're discussing, the job side is a community of 300 people being fully taken care of. It's training, and that takes a generation, Chief, for us to bring that through. For small companies like ours, one of the jobs that Lac Seul has is on my board of directors. They have a direct say in what the aboriginal issues are. I don't suggest that any of our other directors are experts or have a clue about what it's like.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Chief Moonias, do I have it right that you have about 600 people, of whom 300 are living in that area?

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

Yes, it's about half of our—

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Is this group growing, or is it shrinking, or...? Is your native group expanding?

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

It is growing.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Okay. You've heard about all of these wonderful jobs these folks have. Are those the sorts of jobs that native folks, such as your group, would like to actually have?

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

I think someday we would like to have our people put their own bread on the table, instead of lining up for the welfare office and getting the government to do that. I think everybody wants that—

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Right. How would you do that?

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

—whether you're a native or a black person in Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe, or whatever you call it now. You want to put your own bread on the table. Well, that's what we want to do too.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

That's good.

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

We don't want to end up like those Zimbabweans. They live in mud huts now, and their children are barefoot after Cecil Rhodes took the diamonds out. We definitely don't want that.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

It sounds, in that case, as though you are interested in developing some of these lands to produce these jobs that will actually be effective for your community.

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

Yes, but we don't want to pour arsenic into the Muketei River or the Attawapiskat to do that.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

I don't think anybody really wanted to do that in the first place—

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

But you have. You have done that.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Accidents do happen; yes, I agree with that.

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

You have done so in the Athabasca.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

I'm sure I don't think it was done deliberately.

10:15 a.m.

Marten Falls First Nation

Chief Elijah Moonias

Prove it to us that you're not going to do that in those rivers.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Leon Benoit

Thank you, Mr. Daniel. Your time is up.

Mr. Hyer, you have up to five minutes, please.

February 16th, 2012 / 10:15 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Thank you very much.

First of all, I'm sorry that I was 15 minutes late and missed some of your presentations, but I've read them all. They were good, and I think I understood them.

I'd like to start with a couple of comments.

My first comment is to Chief Moonias. Chief Moonias, I truly believe what I'm about to say: if first nations people in northern Ontario do well, we're all going to do well, and if you don't do well, none of us will do well. Our future is your future. We're joined at the hip and we need to get it together.

We have a group of intelligent and, I think, well-intentioned people here today. I sense the frustrations, but also, to be honest, I'm honoured to be here today, because I'm very excited about the potentials if we can get it together and do these developments in an environmentally, socially, economically sustainable way, including you.... Your people have been treated badly for over a century. One example that hasn't come up today is that for the elementary school and secondary school levels, the federal funding is roughly $5,000 per student. Difficult circumstances should require extra money, but you get about half of the $11,000 stipend that Ontario gives to non-aboriginal schools, so the challenges are huge. I'm personally committed, Chief, to doing what I can to help.

I'd like to give a compliment to Noront. I haven't met you before, Mr. Hanson, but I have met some of your staff. I flew myself in to the Ring of Fire to visit your exploration camp there. It was well managed. It was a real leader in environmental controls. I was blown away by the sophistication of the environmental controls, which could be tech-transferred to other places, as we work in northern locales. Obviously you have made a successful effort to hire first nation employees; I met a number of them at the camp there. They were happy and productive, putting bread on the tables for their families, learning skills, and being well treated. I was generally impressed with the open, professional, and progressive approach by your company, which is borne out by your very thoughtful submission here today, so kudos to you.

10:15 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

Wes Hanson

Thank you.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

I have a specific question, and it's a big question. In your answer, could you be short, because I've been long? What alternatives do we have to diesel power in the short, medium, and long term? It has seemed to me, from the beginning, that one big obstacle is working out relationships with first nations, clearly, but the other huge obstacle is the cost and availability of affordable and adequate power in northwestern Ontario. Do you have ideas on the short-, medium-, and long-term plan?

10:20 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

Wes Hanson

We have a lot of ideas. Briefly, we'll separate the mine from the processing facilities for ferrochrome. For the mine site itself, you need about 20 megawatts of power, and you can easily manage that with diesel generators and probably augment it with some sort of photovoltaic cells or something like that.

One of the reasons Noront has proposed the east-west corridor from Pickle Lake up to Webequie is that Ontario Power Generation has proposed that same routing to bring line power into the communities, the first nations communities along that same corridor, so we're sort of dovetailing with what's already been proposed by other experts, which is never a bad thing.

In terms of long-term power for the ferrochrome facility, depending on big you make it, it's going to range from 200 megawatts to 400 megawatts. Right now, depending on who you talk to, that amount of power is not available in northwestern Ontario. The only place it's available is in the Sudbury region, but in 2020 or 2022, when we would be looking at developing ferrochrome, if that opportunity still exists for Noront and its shareholders and stakeholders, then there may be sufficient power available in northwestern Ontario, such that we'd be able to take advantage of it for the people of the northwest.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Okay.

I have a question for Mr. Hanson and also for Mr. Brodie-Brown.

What do you think is the best way to do an adequate environmental assessment, one that doesn't stop development but that does a really good job? I used to read and write environmental assessments for a living. I found that often these are just really good business plans that are holistic. They actually make things better for everybody and they're worth the investment, the time, and the energy if they're done well. Do you have ideas on how to move through this process effectively?