Northcliff Resources Ltd. is involving local First Nations groups in its ongoing effort to win approval for an open pit mine near Stanley.

The mining company announced on Thursday it had signed an environmental assessment review and capacity funding agreement with the St. Mary's First Nation, the Woodstock First Nation and the Assembly of First Nation Chiefs in New Brunswick.

Greg Davidson, the community relations manager for Northcliff Resources, said the funding involves the proposed Sisson mine project.

"We are on the eve of submitting our environmental impact assessment. So this funding will allow First Nations to determine where they need support throughout the process in understanding the project, the engineering, and to get it out into their communities as well." he said.

Davidson said the company has been meeting with First Nations groups since 2010.

He said involving First Nations is integral to the process and said the company’s project needs both the regulatory approval and a "social licence."

Northcliff Resources, Davidson said, has put a considerable effort into its environmental assessment of the project.

"We've … hired some of the top scientists, some of the top engineers in the world. We feel pretty comfortable that we've got a very robust environmental impact assessment," he said.

Mine project pitched

Northcliff Resources has proposed the construction and operation of an open pit tungsten and molybdenum mine at Sisson Brook, about 100 kilometres northwest of Fredericton.

The mine and ore processing plant would have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years and employ approximately 200 to 300 people.

The company has also said the proposed development could be worth $579 million.

The partnership between Northcliff Resources and the First Nations groups stands in contrast to the controversy unfolding in the shale gas debate.

SWN Resources Canada is conducting seismic testing in the Kent County area, which has provoked weeks of protests.

The Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in New Brunswick said in a statement this week that First Nations would only work with government and industries that care for the environment and were willing to develop resources responsibly along with First Nations.

The potential financial impact of the Sisson mine on local First Nations communities is still uncertain.

However, Northcliff Resources said those talks are happening between the provincial government and the communities.

"Certainly those discussions, in terms of revenue sharing, will be government-to-government, in this case First Nations-to-government. And these are the discussions that are ongoing right now," he said.