First Nations, Encanto team up on potash project

  • 3 Sep 2016
  • The StarPhoenix
  • BRUCE JOHNSTONE

First Nations, Encanto team up on potash project

 

A proposed potash project at Muskowekwan First Nation, about 100 kilometres northeast of Regina, is slowly moving toward its goal of becoming Canada’s first mining development on First Nations land with First Nations as full participants, according to representatives of Encanto Potash Corp., the Muskowekwan First Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations (FSIN).

But the groundbreaking project won’t be achieved without many years of hard work, extensive studies and significant investment, proponents told a news conference in Regina on Friday.

“Muskowekwan … is the first of its kind in Canada, the first First Nation to have the opportunity to have a 100 per cent share in natural resource development,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “Projects of this nature do take time. It could be another five years before we see it finally happen. But the work is continuing.”

Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reg Bellerose said the mineral lease that will transfer the ownership of the mineral rights from the Crown to the Muskowekwan First Nation is “key to the project.”

“The mineral lease that will be executed during the fall season will be the first of its kind in the country,” Bellerose said.

“Right now on First Nation land, it’s unsecured. It’s Crown title, no fee simple, no private property, so it’s hard to get security to attract investment.

“So what we’re doing in the process, by way of the lease, is to organize the security that’s needed to bring investment.”

“Encanto is the only company on First Nation land. What we’re talking about here is on-reserve development. That’s what it’s about.’’

Bellerose admitted the project is controversial among some member of the Muskowekwan First Nation, but that the majority of band members have approved the project in several votes.

“Obviously there’s some concern … But if it’s never been done before, how do we know the right model, the right steps (to take)? This is our challenge as First Nations,” Bellerose said.

“We’re trying to generate our own-source revenue to meet the demand of the First Nations people who reside off the reserve.”

Stavros Daskos, president of Encanto, said the company is working with the government of India, through a memorandum of understanding with Metals and Minerals Trading Co., to supply potash to India. But the strategy could be expanded to include other minerals and agricultural products.

“We’re looking at doing business, not on the spot market way, but in the generational way (for) decades to come, securing the future, securing revenues, bringing the two countries closer together on trades that are going to be far exceeding $10, $20, $30 million.”

In 2010, Muskowekwan First Nation signed a joint venture agreement with Encanto Potash Corp. to develop potash resources.

In 2013, a pre-feasibility study indicated proven and probable reserves of 162 million tonnes, which could supply a 2.8-million tonne per year mine for 50-plus years.

The $3-billion project would employ 1,000 people during construction and result in 500 permanent jobs when complete.

Encanto recently replaced its CEO and some directors in an effort to get the project moving.

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About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on September 5, 2016, in economic impact, political, potash. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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