Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel says he’s pleased with the signing of a new agreement between the company and the English River First Nation.

Gitzel says the deal is worth $600 million in the first ten years and will provide jobs and spin-off opportunities for local residents.

He insists that concerns over environmental impacts associated with the deal will be met through current environmental regulations:

“You know at first I would say there is strong regulatory oversight.  Federal government and provincial government both watch very closely, regulate what we do.  Then we’ve gone even farther than that.  We’ve involved people from the local communities to come in and monitor the environment around our operations to ensure we’re keeping the environment clean and the workforce safe.”

He adds there are currently 30 members of the band working for Cameco along with 60 contract employees and he hopes to see that number raised through this deal.

He adds Cameco will also be making direct payments to the community that will go into a trust fund.

Some English River members are worried about the environmental consequences of more uranium mining in the area.

Candyce Paul, who works as a teaching assistant at La Plonge reserve, says not everyone is happy about the deal.

“The benefits they’re talking about are all financial.  But the cultural devastation and environmental devastation are what the people are concerned about.”

She says part of the collaboration agreement calls for the English River First Nation to drop a lawsuit over land near the proposed Millennium mine project.

(With Files From Canadian Press)