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First Nations community gets into the drilling business 

Financial Post August 14, 2008, 5:45 PM by Peter Koven

A highly unique deal has been struck between a First Nations group and a contract drilling company to create jobs around a hot mineral discovery and potentially build the world's only First Nations-owned drilling company.

The discovery in question is the "Ring of Fire" in the James Bay Lowlands in Northern Ontario. The area that came to life last year after a nickel-copper find by Noront Resources Ltd. The only civilization anywhere close to the Ring is Webequie First Nations, and the community has figured out a way to benefit from it.

It has struck a joint venture with Cyr Drilling International under which the First Nations will own a 20% interest in Cyr Drilling Ontario Inc., a new subsidiary. Cyr will provide jobs and training. And if the partnership works out, the First Nations will be able buy out Cyr's entire Ontario business (and some private investors) in 2013.

"The ultimate goal is to be a 100%-owned First Nations drilling company. That would be a first," Chief Scott Jacob of the Webequie First Nations said in an interview.

It is very common for mining companies and First Nations groups to work together. But it is going to be many years (if not decades) before a mine gets built at the Ring of Fire. So by working with the drilling company, the Webequie community gets to capitalize on the exploration activity right away.

Chief Jacob said that his community spent a lot of time wondering how it could get involved in mining before Cyr approached him with the joint venture proposal.

"We hope this is the first of many joint ventures in our community," he said.

Peter Koven

Click here To read the story on the FP website