Aboriginal training alliance formed as Feds highlight Ring of Fire development

5th March 2013 By: Henry Lazenby - Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – A memorandum of understanding (MoU) creating a new training alliance was on Monday inked at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC’s) yearly convention, paving the way for a skilled Aboriginal workforce to be trade-ready to contribute to the development and exploitation of the ‘Ring of Fire’ chromite belt, in the far-north of Ontario.

During the Aboriginal forum reception, the Matawa First Nations Management's Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS), Toronto-based junior Noront Resources and the Confederation College of Applied Arts and Technology signed a MoU that would pave the way for the parties to work collaboratively to expand opportunities for the development of a “highly skilled Aboriginal workforce for mining activity” associated with Noront’s Eagle's Nest project.

Signing of the five-year MoU followed on the heels of federal Industry Minister Tony Clement on Sunday pledging government’s full support to develop the remote Ring of Fire area, which was estimated to hold a resource of more than C$50-billion in minerals, as fast as possible.

Development of the remote region has, however, been slow owing to issues regarding First Nations' involvement, environmental regulation and infrastructure.

“I can assure you that I am fully committed to working closely with these communities in the coming months and years, reaffirming our government’s commitment to collaborative and responsible resource development,” he told a gathering of journalists.

Clement said he was working across 12 departments, as well as with provincial government to coordinate development of the region, which he billed as being the largest mining development region in Canada’s history, as fast as possible.

“There’s a lot at stake. We will not allow the opportunity to pass us by,” he said.

KKETS programme manager Morris Wapoose on Monday said he was looking forward to getting more training programmes under way to advance First Nations' skills and employability in the growing resources sector.

“The Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance is the necessary first step in developing a local Aboriginal workforce that will enable the Matawa First Nations to participate fully in widespread economic development and meaningful, long-term sustainable employment at our Eagle's Nest mining operation, today and for tomorrow," Noront VP for human resources Leanne Hall said.