NexGen Energy Ltd. [NXE-TSX, NYSE] said Thursday December 5 that it has reached a new milestone in its environmental assessment process by entering into study agreements with four local Indigenous communities located within its Rook 1 uranium project in northern Saskatchewan.
NexGen’s 100%-owned Rook 1 Project, located in the Athabasca Basin, is currently in process of feasibility and environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA).
The company said agreements have been signed with Clearwater River Dene Nation, Metis Nation Saskatchewan (MN-S), including on behalf of the Locals of MN-S Region 11, Birch Narrows Dene Nation and Buffalo River Dene Nation.
NexGen is developing one of the world’s largest uranium deposits on its Rook 1 property, which is estimated to contain an indicated resource of 256.6 million pounds of uranium oxide contained in 2.89 million tonnes of 4.03% uranium oxide, according to a resource update and prefeasibility study announced on November 5, 2018.
The latest estimate includes a high grade core of 181 million pounds, contained in 0.46 million tonnes, of grade 17.85% uranium oxide.
On top of that is an inferred resource of 91.7 million pounds of uranium oxide contained in 4.84 million tonnes, grading 0.86% uranium oxide, the company has said.
The indicated resource outlined so far could support annual production of 24.5 million pounds of uranium over a projected mine life of nine years. The prefeasibility study foresees an initial capital cost of $1.25 billion.
The study agreements announced on Thursday enable NexGen to formally engage with the communities to identify potential impacts to aboriginal and treaty rights and socio-economic interests and identify potential avoidance and accommodation measures in relation to the project whilst acknowledging the duty to consult remains with the Crown.
NexGen and the communities have committed to establish respective joint working groups to support the inclusion of each community’s traditional knowledge throughout the environmental assessment process and incorporating traditional land use and dietary studies that are designed, scoped and completed by each of the respective communities.
NexGen said it will provide financing for all aspects of the above, including the joint working groups to lead, review and independently confirm all studies for inclusion into the environmental assessment.
Further, the study agreements commit the parties to negotiate impact benefit agreements in good faith and as early in the regulatory process as possible to allow the parties greater certainty, including certainty that the current and future potential concerns between the parties can be addressed through the process set out in the impact benefit agreement.
“The signing of the study agreements reflects the long-standing respect, trust and confidence between NexGen and our valued local communities within the project area where we are advancing the Rook 1 project,” said NexGen CEO Leigh Curyer.
“The agreements provide very clear processes for important cultural components to be identified and incorporated optimally into the environmental assessment which advances the foundation of successfully developing this exciting project collaboratively,” he said.
On Thursday, NexGen shares eased 1.8% or $0.03 to $1.61. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $1.45 and $2.85.