Aboriginal leaders say they don't know where Northcliff Resources is getting the idea First Nations are more accepting of the Sisson Brook mine project.


St. Mary's First Nation Chief Candice Paul said her members would be heartbroken by the Sisson Brook mine approval. (CBC)

The Department of Environment and Local Government announced on Thursday it had approved the open-pit mine after its environmental impact assessmenet.

Dominique Nouvet, who is a lawyer for six Maliseet bands, said none of her clients have agreed to support the project.

Her clients, including St. Mary's First Nation, have been in consultations with the provincial government.

"The main reactions are dismay and anger over the approvals coming so suddenly and with basically no warning," said Nouvet.

"None of the Maliseet Chiefs support the project."

That was echoed in a press release from the Maliseet Nation late on Thursday night.

It stated the elected chiefs of the six Maliseet communities were "angered by the government of New Brunswick's rushed approval of the Sisson Mine."

"Our members will be heartbroken by this approval," said Chief Candice Paul of St. Mary's First Nation.


President and CEO of Northcliff Resources, Chris Zahovskis, said the project had received a significant amount of positive response from First Nations.

"We have tried to work with the government in good faith," added Chief Gabriel Atwin of Kingsclear First Nation.

"This sudden approval leaves me wondering how serious the government is about addressing Maliseet concerns.

These comments stand in contrast to how the company's top executive characterized the support the company had among First Nations.

Chris Zahovskis, the president and chief executive officer of Northcliff Resources, said "we've received, we feel, a significant amount of positive support" from First Nations.

'Disappointing and frustrating'

Another group that took part in Sisson consultations said it's recently been excluded from the talks.

Sisson mine model

The Sisson mine project includes a tailings pond and ore processing plant, covering 12.5 square kilometre of Crown land. (Northcliff Resources Ltd.)

"The Mi'gmag have not been invited to sit with the province or proponent to discuss this project for close to a year," Chief George Ginnish of the Mi'gmag Chiefs wrote.

"To date, the process with the province has been disappointing and frustrating."

The provincial government said it was satisfied with the review and consultation process.

"This has been a long time, this has been a lot of consultation going on," said Environment Minister Brian Kenny.

"If you take a look at the recommendations, there's a lot of protection for environment."

The federal Environmental Impact Assessment is still ongoing, and must be approved before the tungsten-molybdenum mine can move forward.