TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The Canadian federal government and the Muskowekwan First Nation on Tuesday announced the Muskowekwan First Nation potash project had been accepted by the federal government under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act (FNCIDA), which enables the federal government to enact a provincial regulatory regime to govern commercial and industrial activities within a First Nation reserve.
First Potash Ventures, a partnership between Encanto Potash and Muskowekwan Resources, was working toward developing the mine on the First Nation’s reserve, located 100 km north-east of Regina. The mine was expected to produce up to 2.8-million tons of potash a year over a 50-year-plus lifetime.
The project is expected to provide economic opportunities for the Muskowekwan First Nation, as well as the surrounding area, by providing training and employment opportunities during the construction and operation of the mine.
While the project would become the first on-reserve potash mine in Canada, the proposed Muskowekwan project is the first in Saskatchewan to use FNCIDA to regulate a project on reserve lands.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt and Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose in a joint statement said federal government and the Muskowekwan First Nation would now begin discussions with Saskatchewan to explore a potential regulation under FNCIDA relating to the proposed mine.
"This is a crucial milestone and brings us one step closer to the day we construct the first mine on First Nation land,” Encanto president and CEO Jim Walchuck said.
FNCIDA, which came into effect in 2006, aimed to reproduce the provincial rules and regulations that apply to similar large-scale commercial or industrial projects off reserve, and apply them to specific on-reserve projects.
The Muskowekwan First Nation potash project was expected to generate about 1 000 construction jobs and about 500 permanent jobs once it became fully operational. In addition, the mine was expected to generate “tens of millions” in revenue royalties a year for the First Nation.