The Haines Borough Assembly took a step toward establishing Haines as a potential transshipment port for minerals when it voted during its Dec. 11 meeting to authorize entrance into an agreement between the borough and a Wellgreen mine developer.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the borough and Prophecy Platinum Corp. allows the two parties to exchange information regarding the potential development of a nickel, gold and platinum deposit near Burwash Landing, Y.T.

The Haines Port Development Steering Committee reviewed a redraft of the MOU on Nov. 5. The redraft struck a confidentiality clause from the original document. Binding provisions were also removed.

Assembly member Norm Smith initially expressed skepticism of the document.

“I really question why this is necessary. Secondly, I’m wondering why these people aren’t here talking to us. And if there are no secret negotiations, then all the more they should be here talking to us. I feel really awkward here authorizing this memorandum of understanding – whatever that means – and not having them here saying what they plan to do,” Smith said.

Manager Mark Earnest said Prophecy Platinum did travel to Haines in September to attend a summit organized by the private Haines Port Development Council.

“They have been here and they have expressed a commitment to come back to Haines and make presentations. This is part of that process to establish a working relationship so that they have a reason to travel to Haines to make those presentations,” Earnest said.

Assembly member Dave Berry said MOUs are standard operating procedure, and assembly member Steve Vick agreed he saw nothing wrong with entering into the MOU because of the non-binding provisions.

The resolution passed unanimously.