Sudbury

Mining project near Moosonee on hold until consultation done, company says

A company that wants to mine niobium south of Moosonee says exploration is at a standstill until consultation happens with the chief and council of Moose Cree First Nation.

Election for new chief and council set for July 2

A company that wants to mine niobium south of Moosonee says exploration is at a standstill until consultation happens with the chief and council of Moose Cree First Nation.

However, a new chief and council won't be elected until July 2. An interim committee has been governing the community since nine councillors resigned, triggering dissolution of council last month.

NioBay president Claude Dufresne says the former chief is against the project, adding the community has filed a judicial review of the government's decision to issue an exploration permit.

"The judicial review doesn't prevent us from accessing the land or doing the drilling program," he said.

"We decided to take a step back and wait to find out what's going to happen with the election before doing anything on the ground."

Dufresne says the company has a duty to consult with the First Nation.

He says some community members fear mining activity could contaminate the pristine North French River watershed.

But he says that's not the case.

"People are believing that the project could have an impact on the North French and obviously without detailed information they believe it will contain ore at the risk of impacting the North French which is false," Dufresne said, adding that niobium is an alloy used in the making of steel. 

The provincial government of says no date has been set for the judicial review.

Dufresne says the proposed mine, 45 kilometres south of Moosonee and Moose Factory, could employ 200 people and operate for 25 years or more.

With files from Kate Rutherford