Mining company Rio Tinto is moving ahead on the Roughrider uranium project in the Athabasca basin.

From June 20 to July 4, the mining company held community consultation meetings in the far northern communities of Hatchet Lake, Black Lake, Stony Rapids, Fond du Lac and Southend.

Rio Tinto Canada Uranium spokesperson Jay Fredericks says although the Roughrider project is still in the exploration phase and it will be at least another six years until if and when the project happens, the company still feels it is important to engage affected communities at an early stage.

“Our philosophy at Rio Tinto is to engage the local communities fairly early in the process so that as we move along the communities are understanding what is going on there and we’re seeking their input at very early stages so that we understand their concerns,” he says.

Fredericks adds a number of issues were brought up at the community meetings including interest in potential jobs and business investment as well as concerns as to what effects the project could have on the local environment and traditional ways of life.

He says less than one per cent of exploration projects actually make it to the development stage but, nevertheless, Rio Tinto remains cautiously optimistic about the Roughrider project, as it has already made it through a number of the necessary exploration stages.