MONTREAL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Minerals Development today announced Rio Tinto will be a founding partner, supporting its work for Indigenous communities that want to understand how they can engage with and participate in minerals development.
The Centre is being established by Waubetek, an Indigenous development corporation in Ontario, as a unique hub of learning and research for First Nations and Indigenous owned businesses in North America. It will work to share knowledge on opportunities, risks and best practices in minerals development.
The Centre has been founded through a partnership between Waubetek Business Development Corporation, Laurentian University, and the Government of Canada.
Rio Tinto is the first resources company to join the partnership with a contribution of $1 million over 5 years, as well as technical expertise to help the Centre provide insight and expertise to Indigenous communities who are considering developing their own resources.
Rio Tinto’s support will allow the Centre of Excellence to expand its focus from Ontario to work across North America, by developing networks in British Columbia, Quebec and Arizona.
Waubetek Business Development Corporation general manager Dawn Madahbee Leach said “We are pleased that a leading resources company supports our goal that Indigenous people should have the tools to understand their mineral resources and the industry, so that any development brings long term benefits. This can play an important role towards economic reconciliation and inclusive growth through developing greater control over our lands and resources, as well as creating wealth and well-being in communities.”
Rio Tinto group executive Corporate Relations Simone Niven said “Our partnership aims to grow the opportunity for Indigenous communities to participate in a meaningful way in the benefits that can come from responsible mineral development. North America can provide many of the essential materials for the transition to renewable energy, such as copper, rhenium and cobalt. Indigenous communities will be able to better understand the mineral resources in their traditional lands and make informed decisions about whether to develop them.”
Minister for Natural Resources Hon. Seamus O’Regan said “The Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Minerals Development will create greater opportunities for Indigenous communities across Canada and in the United States. We are proud to partner with Indigenous communities, and industry partners like Rio Tinto, to help make this brighter future for these communities possible. Congratulations to the Centre on this exciting new investment.”
Note to editors
The Waubetek Business Development Corporation is an Aboriginal-owned and controlled organization that delivers business financing and economic development services to First Nations and Aboriginal businesses located throughout North-Eastern Ontario. It is a member of the network of Community Futures Development Corporations in Ontario and Aboriginal Financial Institutions in Canada.
Waubetek’s goal is to assist in strengthening the economies of the local First Nation, as well as the whole region of Ontario, through business and community development. Waubetek, meaning “the future” in the Ojibwe language, has provided a variety of business services and commercial financing to more than 3,000 Aboriginal businesses in a variety of industries since 1989.
Waubetek works with 27 First Nation communities, as well as Aboriginal entrepreneurs off-reserve in a large area of North Eastern Ontario. The Centre of Excellence will extend beyond this to supporting Indigenous Mineral Development throughout Ontario and across North America.
$1.8 million in funding for the Centre of Excellence has been committed from the Government of Canada through FedNor and NRCAN.
The Centre will be a source of knowledge and expertise for Indigenous communities, industry and governments. It will connect stakeholders to develop partnerships and offer access to information, referral services and training tools around Indigenous participation in mineral development.
Initiatives will include developing ‘Mining 101’ training to support Indigenous communities in developing capacity to understand the mineral resources present in their traditional territories and how to engage fully with the mining industry.