Sharing the wealth

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The signing of an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) by Matachewan First Nation and Northgate Minerals Corp. on July 14, means that the community will benefit from a new spirit of cooperation when it comes to resource development on or near its traditional lands.

An official signing ceremony took place at the community complex in Matachewan First Nation with the participation of Chief and Council, community members, Wabun Tribal Council and company directors. The agreement provides for a framework for the permitting and development of the company’s Young Davidson mining property. The IBA also outlines co-operative initiatives between the community and Northgate on the creation of employment, training and business opportunities related to the development of the mining project.

Chief Richard Wincikaby of Matachewan First Nation headed up the signing ceremony.

“This IBA signing is an historic event for our people. It ensures that our membership will have access to jobs and training. As well it opens the doors for First Nation entrepreneurs. Thanks to the hard work of so many dedicated people we are here today to celebrate a better future for all of us,” said Chief Wincikaby.

Ken Stowe, President & CEO of Northgate Minerals, flew in from Toronto with a group of company executives to speak at the signing event.

“We have worked very closely with the Matachewan First Nation and we are extremely pleased with the strong mutually beneficial relationship that we have developed. The IBA formalizes our relationship and establishes a framework for sharing business, employment and training opportunities during the development and operation of the Young-Davidson mine,” said Stowe.

Chris Rockingham, Vice President of Northgate’s Exploration & Business Development, has been in constant touch with Matachewan First Nation leadership in developing the IBA.

“This has been a tremendous learning experience for me and today we celebrate a significant milestone. The Young Davidson Project is a long mine life and it is about jobs and the development of sustainable business opportunities and we have the capacity to make it happen,” said Rockingham.

On behalf of the Wabun Tribal Council, Executive Director Shawn Batise congratulated both parties for signing what he described as a truly progressive and meaningful agreement.

“The signing of this IBA will finally see a true sharing of the wealth of our traditional lands. This agreement will benefit both parties by providing Northgate Minerals with certainty in uncertain times and Matachewan First Nation with the hope for jobs and an economy that is not based on government handouts,” said Batise.

First Nation representatives who attended the IBA signing event included: Matachewan First Nation Councillors Gail Brubacher, Gertrude Nolan, Anne Batisse, Marlene Collins and Lionel Boucher, and Jason Batise, Economic Development and Technical Services Advisor for Wabun Tribal Council. Representatives from Northgate Minerals included: Jon Douglas, Senior Vice President & CFO; Peter MacPhail, Chief Operating Officer; Andrew Cormier, Manager of Project Engineering; Patrick Downey, Board of Directors; Mark Daniel, Board of Directors; Tom Wadey, Project Manager, Young Davidson; Joe Wojtus, Site Supervisor, Young Davidson; and Keren R. Yun, Director, Investor Relations.

The IBA is the result of a mutually beneficial relationship between the company and the First Nation. It was initiated when the company acquired the Young Davidson Mine in 2005.

Matachewan First Nation and the company first formally recognized their cooperation with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2008.

Positive developments have already come out of this relationship. In February 2009, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) announced a three-year partnership strategy to create the Matachewan Aboriginal Access to mining jobs Training Strategy (MAATS). The $4 million strategy is supported in partnership with Northgate Minerals, Matachewan First Nation, Mattagami First Nation, Wahgoshig First Nation, Wabun Tribal Council and the Ontario government.

Wabun Tribal Council is a regional territorial organization that represents Matachewan First Nation and six other First Nation communities in northeastern Ontario and it is directed by its respective Chiefs.

The Young-Davidson mine site, located 15-kms south of the First Nation, is a well-established goldmine site that was first developed in the early 1930s. In November 2005, Northgate Minerals acquired the Young Davidson property and the company actually began consultations with Matachewan First Nation before acquisition took place.

The Young Davidson mine is presently in what is known as an advanced exploration and engineering stage. Currently, the company is working towards a planned start-up date of 2010 and a projected 10-year or longer mine life.

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