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Aroland First Nation chief is not happy with Wyloo Canada's deal with Sudbury

With the recent news that Wyloo Canada will be building a battery processing plant in Sudbury, the chief of Aroland First Nation believes transferring those materials further south will have a greater effect on the environment.  
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AROLAND – The chief of Aroland First Nation is disappointed that Wyloo Canada is moving ahead with a battery processing plant in Sudbury even though the Ring of Fire may cause harm to his First Nation. 

Aroland First Nation issued a media release in response to the June 3 announcement that Wyloo Canada had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the City of Sudbury to build a battery processing plant that will potentially see tonnes of resources from Wyloo’s proposed Eagle’s Nest mine.

The proposed site will potentially open up the Ring of Fire despite there being no official construction date.

“It’s shocking that Wyloo and other mining giants act as if the Ring of Fire mining is going ahead for sure despite the extreme level of harm it could cause to First Nations, climate change, the fragile environment, and endangered species in the area," said Aroland First Nation Chief Sonny Gagnon in a media release. 

"Aroland stands to be really affected, because all of the traffic hauling all of that ore farther south, will go right through our backyard," Gagnon said.

He pointed out that since there are rumours of a potential lithium mining boom in the region, the area now has hundreds of mining claims staked in it.

One such disaster Aroland First Nation is claiming could be to the peatlands. Peatlands are critical in the defence against worsening climate change as they capture and hold more carbon from the atmosphere than any other form of terrain.

“Mining the Ring of Fire could have catastrophic results if it compromises the integrity of the peatlands - and to date, no one knows what level of development the peatlands can sustain,” Gagnon said.

He stated that Aroland is not opposed to the development of the Ring of Fire, but they would like to work constructively with the industry to ensure damage to the environment is minimal.

“Aroland has been working hard over the past five years to ensure that we get the answers to questions such as whether and if so, what mining can occur in the Ring of Fire area that would be safe for the environment and for the over 15 First Nations that live in the region,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon called on the federal Minister of Environment to conduct a regional impact assessment, believing more research was needed. Finding success with the federal government, Aroland worked with the federal government to make sure the regional assessment was co-led between the First Nation and the government.

“That regional assessment process has begun. We cannot allow mining companies to derail this process by jumping ahead of its results. This proposed development will have direct and long-lasting impacts on our environment and our community if it goes ahead," he said.

“Anyone working in our territory or whose project will impact our lands must listen to us. We are not opposed to development, but we must ensure that proper environmental due diligence is carried out and that any development that is approved minimizes impacts to the land, water and people. Nothing about us without us.”

Clint Fleury

About the Author: Clint Fleury

Clint Fleury is a web reporter covering Northwestern Ontario and the Superior North regions.
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