Deal protects some key Tłı̨chǫ areas from development

The Tłı̨chǫ Government says it has reached an agreement with Explor Silica to protect some culturally and ecologically significant areas from mineral exploration.

The agreement, announced on Wednesday, means Explor will relinquish four mineral claims in a region known as the Dınàgà Wek’èhodì candidate protected area.

That area covers the lake, shoreline and islands near the top end of Great Slave Lake's North Arm.

Explor is interested in drilling for silica sand, a product used in the process of fracking.

The Husky mining company first proposed drilling for silica sand in the area, but backed out in 2015 after the Tłı̨chǫ Government, Yellowknives Dene First Nation and North Slave Métis Alliance each expressed concern that K’ıchıì – or Whitebeach Point, a culturally significant area – could be affected.

Explor bought Husky's claims but met with similar resistance.

Now, the Tłı̨chǫ Government says an agreement has been reached in which Explor relinquishes four claims, including in the region of K’ıchıì, to allow evaluation of potential development at its remaining claims.

In Wednesday's press release, Explor president Allan Châtenay said he knew, going into the project, that building a partnership with the Tłı̨chǫ Government would be an essential part of the deal.

"We are thrilled to be working closely with the Tłı̨chǫ Government to move forward with the development of this world-class and strategically important resource," stated Châtenay.

Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty stated: “By relinquishing the four claims around Whitebeach Point, Explor has shown its willingness to work with the Tłı̨chǫ Government in a good and respectful way that acknowledges the longstanding wishes of Tłı̨chǫ Elders and leadership.

"This gives us the foundation to begin exploring the next steps for a successful future together.”

Caitrin Pilkington, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio