Mining concerns subject of presentation to Limerick council

Monica Nikopolous, the founder and chief spokesperson with the Limerick Area Conservation Coalition presented to Limerick Township council at their meeting on Feb. 22 on community concerns about potential mining initiatives that could occur within Limerick, specifically from Transition Metals. Mayor Kim Carson and council assured Nikopolous that they were against any mining ventures in the township and would remain so.

Nikopolous presented her delegation to Limerick Township council at their meeting on Feb. 22 at the Limerick community centre. Being a new council with a new mayor, she asked them to clarify their stance on any potential mining operations within the township boundaries, which the previous council had vehemently been against. This was in response to potential mining explorations in the township that they were concerned could occur by Transition Metals, who subsequently denied by letter to Limerick council that they intended to do so at the present time.

While Nikopolous is the founder and chief spokesperson with the LACC, she says that the collaboration, contribution and information from many community members that inspire the updates and the direction of the organization. The LACC was founded in Aug. 2018 to oppose the McBride mining project. It’s a non-profit, volunteer, grassroots community organization that gets information from all members of the community as well as alliances and support from several local lake associations, First Nations and the Limerick council from 2018 to 2022 under Mayor Carl Stefanski, with ample support from then Councillor Kim Carson and Councillor Jan MacKillican.

Nikopolous told The Bancroft Times that she had stumbled upon the McBride Project that summer of 2018, and partially through her efforts and the newly formed LACC, funding was ultimately withdrawn from the McBride project.

Mayor Kim Carson and council emphatically stated that they shared the previous council’s stance on any potential mining within Limerick, and that they were against it. She also stated that they would reaffirm their support of the council resolution from 2019 to this effect.

Carson said they had reached out to the Minister of Mines and Northern Development [the Honourable George Pirie] and that no mining was planned for the area. She also brought forth a letter that the township had gotten from Transition Metals on Feb. 1, in which the township had asked them where they stood on this issue. She read it out to the meeting’s attendees verbatim so it would be part of the meeting minutes. The letter stated that presently Transition Metals does not have exploration permits in place that would allow them to conduct any potentially disruptive work in Limerick Township. If they did apply for such permits, First Nations and the public would be informed by the MMND so that they could comment on it.

The letter went on to state that Limerick’s mineral rights, unless previously sold by the Crown and registered at the land registry office, are owned by the province. The Crown may issue mineral exploration licences to allow for companies like Transition Metals to research and evaluate the mineral potential on Crown lands.

“Mineral Exploration Licences (formerly referred to as mining claims), provide rights of ownership and access but do not permit the holder to engage in mining activities such as resource extraction/mining, processing or sale. Considerable efforts to secure such additional rights from the Crown follow a lengthy and highly regulated process of engagement with all levels of government and stakeholders before any mining can take place. If people have concerns about exploration and mining activity, I would encourage those concerned to fulfill their civic duty and become familiar with the laws associated with mining and mineral exploration in Ontario,” said the Transition Metals representative in the letter.

The letter concluded by stating that the mining laws in Ontario had been developed over time and adapted to address many concerns associated with destructive or damaging mining practices to better reflect societal needs and values.

“Ontario has evolved to become a world leader in mineral policy and has developed many policies to mitigate potentially destructive aspects. I think most will find that the laws in place to regulate mineral exploration and mining in Ontario are well considered,” said the representative in the letter.

The Transition Metals representative also provided a link to the Ontario Mining Act for the community’s information;

Carson said that it is not that Limerick council wasn’t doing anything regarding the issue of potential mining in the township, and they are proactively asking and staying in touch to find out what is going on.

“I will go again on record as saying I am absolutely 100 per cent oppose a mine. That resolution [from 2019] still stands until council rescinds it,” she says.

Carson said that while nothing was going on currently, she invited the LACC to stay on top of it, as she and council appreciate what they do, and bring any issues to council’s attention as they happen.

Nikopolous says that the previous Limerick council [from 2018 to 2022] deserves a lot of credit in helping to preclude the McBridge project from going forward, and she said that Mining Watch Canada also played a huge role as they provided much needed direction and guidance as well as financial support which mostly went toward advertising and signage. Land’escapes Ben Samann, who owns thousands of acres of land in Limerick is also against mining and mining exploration, which was confirmed by Land’escapes’ media spokesperson Margaret Williamson Batuszkin from Kasama Marketing, on March 2 to The Bancroft Times.

Nikopolous says that the next steps for the LACC are, as in the past, to continue to ask the community to keep their eyes and ears open to any mining/exploration activities.

“The collective support and information sharing amongst the community is vital, as was the case with the McBride project,” she says.

Overall, Nikopolous told The Bancroft Times on Feb. 28 that she thought her delegation went very well.

“Mayor Carson stated that she and council oppose mining explorations and still stand by the previous mayor and council’s resolution opposing mining exploration,” she says. “These two points were basically the reason for the delegation and I was pleased to hear them publicly declare their stance and willingness to work with the community to stay abreast of the matter.”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times