Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt was in Saskatoon on Tuesday to announce the first on-reserve potash mine in Canada.

The $3 billion project is a partnership between the Muskowekan First Nation and B.C.-based Encanto Resources and will be located on reserve land about 100 kilometres northeast of Regina.

The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs says the project is a tremendous opportunity for the First Nation and the federal government is now working to enact regulations that will incorporate provincial commercial and industrial mining standards on the reserve.

Muskowekan Chief Reginald Bellerose says the project will create local employment and allow the First Nation to invest in other priorities such as education.

Gordon Keep of Encanto says although the finances still need to be raised to build the mine and they need to find a permanent buyer for the potash supplied from it – the partners are confident an important first step has been taken and the project should be operational in about three years.

The potash mine is estimated to create 1,000 jobs in its development phase and 500 permanent jobs once it is fully operational.