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A new copper and zinc mining project is due to get underway under in what has been called a historic deal between First Nations in Saskatchewan and a subdivision of a Vancouver-based mining company.

The proposed collaboration is for the construction and operation of an underground copper and zinc mine. It’s part of an agreement between Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and McIlvenna Bay Operating Ltd.

The project is expected to employ members of the Cree nation; the company is expected to consult with the First Nation in a meaningful capacity to ensure Aboriginal and Treaty rights are followed and respected.

“This partnership lays a solid foundation for future initiatives between First Nations and industries that respect and uphold our rights and interests,” Chief Karen Bird said in the press release issued Tuesday.

The partnership entails funding a full-time implementation director associated with the project at the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, as well as funding for half the salary of a junior role in the area of lands. Three committees are to oversee the environment, business and training aspects of the project.

The key environmental protection measures reached in the agreement include the protection of lands, waters and wildlife.

“This agreement is the product of substantial negotiations with MBO (McIlvenna Bay Operating Ltd). It presents a significant opportunity for the PBCN (Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation) to reap benefits from this vital resource project while preserving our Treaty and Aboriginal rights, cultural values, and environmental interests,” Bird said.

The mining company’s website calls the operations in McIlvenna Bay a carbon neutral development project. It operates as a subsidiary of Foran Mining Corporation.

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