“As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.”
The sentiments expressed in the verses of the Desiderata, are values to live by. It is interesting that they are similar to the values of the people of First Nations I have met during the past few years.
It has been my good fortune and privilege to deal with the people of the Anishinaabe First Nations that live in and around the Hammond Reef Gold Project. There are eight communities that consider the Project held by Brett Resources Inc., part of their traditional territory. Brett’s property is located in the Treaty #3 area in Northwestern Ontario, an area that has suffered first hand, the downturn in the forestry industry and the shrinking of the minerals industry.
Brett has tried to keep the local communities informed of exploration activities occurring at Hammond Reef. Community meetings were held with both the First Nations and Atikokan Town Council shortly after Brett established a presence at Hammond Reef in October of 2006. We have strived to be a part of the community. Our Vancouver based company, does not want to be seen as an interloper. We have tried to integrate ourselves into the local community by contributing and offering support to community events. In return the community has offered us friendships that are strong and we expect will be long lasting.
One of the recent accomplishments that Brett is most proud of is the Memorandum of Understanding signed by eight First Nations and the Company. The process was driven by our Manager of Community Relations, Mr. Bud Dickson. This gentleman, who is Atikokan born and bred, has been a solid supporter of his community, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal. As a trapper, hunter, former school teacher and tourist resort operator, he has built strong personal community ties. His efforts to introduce the Company to key people within the Community has allowed us to develop community relations that are built on trust and good faith.
Meetings with the First Nation Chiefs and Elders, which are cordial and warm, started in early 2007. The meetings have been based on a view of forming a partnership with the First Nations and the Town of Atikokan that will be of benefit to northwestern Ontario. It has taken time to build this relationship, but now that it has been established our discussions are open and frank. We have nurtured the mutual respect and trust for each other by trying to assist each other where we can. Brett wants the benefits of any development at Hammond Reef to directly flow to the local community. Our friendship with the First Nations has been rewarded by the quick development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Brett and the First Nation stakeholders. To celebrate the historic signing of this agreement, the Town of Atikokan, led by its Mayor, Dennis Brown, hosted the signing of the agreement in the local community hall. It was in this spirit of partnership that over one hundred members of the community including elders from various First Nation communities attended the event.
The parties to the MOU have agreed that through a process of mutual respect, ongoing dialogue and regular interaction, that they wish to develop and implement an Impact Benefits Agreement (IBA). To this end the parties are working to set out a framework for such an agreement.
Often small junior exploration companies like ours do not understand how to contribute to the community in which they work. What Brett has tried to offer is the opportunity for locals to participate in the growth of the Hammond Reef Project by creating employment and service contract opportunities. Brett too has benefitted from the “local hire” policy. The Company has an accessible resource of qualified employees and contractors with a “can do” attitude who during the past two years have contributed their services in advancing the gold Project to its current level.
A lot has been accomplished in a short time. Three years ago Brett had just started exploration on the Hammond Reef exploration program. The intent was to grow a small, low grade deposit, with an historic resource into something bigger. After three years and the expending of more than $50 million dollars1 of shareholder money, Brett has built a sizeable resource of 6.7 million ounces gold or 259.4 million tonnes at 0.8 grams per tonne at a cut-off grade of 0.30 grams per tonne. Metallurgical studies conducted on the Project indicate the gold recoveries are better than 90 percent. A Preliminary Assessment engineering report that reviews the economics of the Project has been completed. It indicates that at current gold prices the Hammond Reef Project is viable. What does that mean? It means that Brett will need more than 40 million additional dollars to continue to advance its engineering studies, conduct environmental reviews to study how an active mine will affect the environment, do a detailed study to assess the costs of building a gold mine and then apply for all the necessary permits that allow the Project to be built and operated. If after the feasibility study is complete, the economics of Hammond Reef still look viable, an additional investment of more than $750 million will be required to build the new gold mine.
Community relations will remain in the forefront of Brett’s activities. During the two year period that an advanced engineering or feasibility study is taking place, an IBA will be developed, and once the mutual consent of both parties is reached, this historic document will form the basis of a partnership between the signatories and Brett.
The Desiderata concludes with the following verse,
“Be cheerful. Strive to be happy”
The culmination of Brett’s work if successful, will be an operating gold mine that will create new jobs and opportunities that ultimately will benefit all communities in the area. Long term employment opportunities should bring about a happy, stable, thriving community with much to offer. The objectives of this Desiderata verse will be met.
Authored by Patrick Soares, President and CEO of Brett Resources Inc.