Thursday, September 24, 2009

Strange bedfellows

Former National Chief Phil Fontaine and Senator Partick Brazeau, together? I hope someone with a cell phone took video.

YK Dene Chief skeptical about mining rare earth metals

- An exploration company is renaming a deposit southeast of Yellowknife today, in a traditional ceremony with the Dene First Nations.

But the proposed mining project may be too close for comfort for some.

Yellowknives Dene Chief, Ed Sangris, says the rare earth metal deposit at Thor Lake is close to traditional hunting and ancestral burial grounds.

He says although Avalon Rare Metals, Inc. has been consulting the First Nations about the drilling operation, the Dene still have to decide whether mining that close to home is worth the economic benefits.

“You gotta find the balance… do we do away with traditional culture… or do we keep our traditions?”

The deposit at Thor Lake is being renamed as Nechalacho, which Sangris says, in the Dene language means “the wind is always blowing”.

The company is flying the former Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, along with Canadian Senator Patrick Brazeau and the NWT Premier to the renaming ceremony southeast of Yellowknife. Sangris adds he’s not sure what Fontaine is doing on the company’s board of directors.

“I don’t know what they’re trying to pull. Maybe they’re just trying to garner First Nations support behind the project, you know, get someone in there, like Phil Fontaine, to convince us, ‘yeah, it’s okay’, but we have to make our own decision.”

Sangris says he plans to discuss the mining project with the Dene membership, while Avalon is conducting a pre-feasibility study at the Nechalacho site, expected to be finished by early 2010.


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