Thanks to the hard work of our employees and the collaboration of our many partners, we have successfully implemented many different programs, ranging from the training of Crees for skilled jobs with Hydro-Quebec (over 50 Crees now occupy permanent positions), the rejuvenation of Cree community and family fisheries, the support of numerous cultural activities including summer gatherings and the enhancement of goose hunting facilities. This is not to mention the hundreds of kilometres of snowmobile and ATV trails already built throughout Eeyou Istchee.
On its 20th anniversary, Niskamoon Corporation salutes The Nation magazine and wishes it many more years of success and positive change.
C-Bay Minerals Inc.
In November, the newly minted company C-Bay Minerals took over the Lac Doré Complex of eight mines in the Chibougamau/ Oujé-Bougoumou area. C-Bay Minerals Inc., jointly owned by Nuinsco Resources Limited, based in Toronto, and Ocean Partners Holdings Limited, headquartered in London, England, intends to revitalize the region’s copper-mining industry.
Mining in Chibougamau/ Oujé is a tricky proposition. On the one hand, the town in its present form exists as a result of the mining companies that flocked to the area in the 1950s, turning what had originally been a small Cree community into a company mining town. However, on the other hand, residents are all-too aware of the damage that mining can do. In 2008, the Nation obtained documents from the Quebec environment ministry showing that the past half-century of mining had left water in Oujé heavily contaminated with arsenic, copper, nickel, lead and zinc.
This proved what residents had known for a long time, particularly since 2001, when Christopher Covel, a scientist hired by the Grand Council of the Crees, said that the contamination in Oujé “makes the Love Canal look like a dirty backyard”.
Roland Horst, CEO of C-Bay Minerals as of mid-February 2012, feels the community has no reason to be worried about C-Bay’s resumption of work in the area.
“I represent both the company’s shareholders and the community,” Horst said. “In all companies I’ve been involved in the past, I’ve seen first-hand how important it is to be responsible, which means respecting the environment and the community. We want to get people in the Chibougamau area working again, but we have to do it responsibly.”
Over the next year, C-Bay Minerals will reopen operations at the Corner Bay mine beneath the south end of Lac Chibougamau. That mine was shuttered just as it was beginning operations in 2008, when the price of copper plummeted.
“Certainly we do continuous water testing,” said Horst, “And before we start operations, we’re going to look at the tailings pond, obviously, to make sure additional tailings can go in. We’ll start small, with 500 to 1,000 tonnes per day. When the mine was operational, it was producing 2,200 to 2,400 tonnes a day, but it will be a while before we get up to that level of production. Eventually we’d like to get it up to capacity, which is 3,000 tonnes a day, but it will be four or five years before we can even begin thinking about doing that.”
Sean Stokes, Nuinsco’s VP Corporate Affairs, pointed out that C-Bay has a Vice President, Environment and Sustainable Development, Dr. David Mchaina.
“That’s something we’d like to put forward as a point of difference between our company and the way things have been done in the past,” Stokes said. “Typically, companies of our size don’t have resources like that.”
As well, Horst added, C-Bay’s general manager Jean Tanguay grew up in Chibougamau and was once a Campbell mine project manager.
“He’s integrated into the community,” said Horst. “That makes him a valuable guy to refer to on environmental issues.”
Horst pointed out that the company is consulting with the Cree Nation and will continue to do so. Eventually, Horst expects the mine to provide work to 300 to 400 miners from the area.
He pointed out that many Oujé and Chibougamau residents fly north to work on mines for companies like Goldcorp.
“A lot of those guys would rather work closer to home if they could,” he said. “So it’s important that we have the support of the community behind us. We want to create opportunities for the Cree Nation as well as for guys from Chibougamau. And we want to help the economy, obviously, but we want to do it properly, in a way that’s environmentally and socially responsible.”
To date, no one has contradicted C-Bay’s claims of environmental responsibility.
Ramsey Hart of Ottawa’s MiningWatch Canada said that, to date, he’s not aware of any concerns expressed about the new mining to be undertaken by C-Bay.
“We don’t generally hear a lot about mines starting up,” he said. “In established mining camps like Chibougamau, people may be willing to overlook the long-term implications of it, or more willing to accept the environmental impacts. It’s not a big surprise to me that no one’s gotten in touch about this new operation.”
For more info: www.nuinsco.ca