Ring of Fire News


What's up with the biggest thing happening in mining in NW Ontario?

Ring of Fire (RoF) News – September 25, 2014

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Ring of Fire News – September 19, 2014



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Ring of Fire News – September 12, 2014

  • More complaints about no First Nation reps (yet) on Ontario’s RoF DevCorp  Some chiefs in the Ring of Fire are expressing disappointment after First Nations were excluded from a board that deals with infrastructure development in their territory. Chief Peter Moonias from the Neskantaga First Nation said the move was “not in good faith.” Especially, after a historic framework agreement was signed between the nine Matawa- member First Nations and the province just months ago. “The relationship part is what is important in that framework,” said Moonias. …. Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Grand Chief Harvey Yesno said he’s spoken to some chiefs in the region who have expressed concern over the province’s actions. “The (provincial) government is moving forward unilaterally, yet they keep saying that partnership with First Nations is a priority,” said Yesno ….”more
  • More about those First Nation concerns  “First Nations scold Mines Minister Michael Gravelle – CBC News has obtained letters from several First Nations in the Ring of Fire detailing a breakdown in the relationship with Ontario that could threaten the already fragile mining project ….”
  • Bob Rae heading to RoF First Nation for meetings, according to his Twitter feed
  • Some (tempered?) RoF optimism from the CEO of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC)  “There are many reasons it’s taken longer to develop the Ring of Fire than expected, and there are lessons to be learned from that. One is when the mining industry tells government, “You’ve got to seize the opportunity,” it’s true, says the president and chief executive officer of the Mining Association of Canada. That’s what the industry told the government of Ontario several years ago when metal prices were really strong, said Pierre Gratton. It would be good to have some of those mines in production or at least going into construction now, Gratton told The Sudbury Star before speaking at the 2014 North America Mining Expo Gala Dinner on Tuesday night at the Caruso Club. “Now it’s more challenging for the Noronts of this world to raise capital,” said Gratton, “and it’s all been because we’ve struggled with issues we ought not to be struggling with.” They include roads, who owns what land, protracted government issues and uncertainty around First Nations and their level of participation in developing the area. On a more positive note, Gratton said some of the building blocks for real long-term success in the Ring of Fire are being put into place ….”
  • More from the MAC CEO  “The high cost of doing business in Canada, especially in the Far North, is the biggest challenge the mining sector faces nationally, said Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada. Gratton, who was the keynote speaker at a Chamber of Commerce event for the North America Mining Expo in Sudbury on Sept. 9, said according to Mining Association of Canada research, it can cost up to two and a half times as much to build a remote mine there, than a mine near a populated urban centre in the south …. To address the high cost of doing business in remote regions, like northwestern Ontario’s Ring of Fire mineral deposits, government needs to partner with mining companies, Gratton said. Building infrastructure in those regions, which often benefits remote First Nations by connecting them to transportation routes and electrical grids, constitutes a public good, Gratton said ….”
  • A think tank’s take on recent First Nation court decisions on extraction  “A pair of recent Supreme Court decisions delivered earlier this year changes Canada’s relationship with Aboriginal peoples, but the consequences are by no means as drastic as some of the overheated commentary suggests, a new study from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute finds. While some believed the Tsilhqot’in and Grassy Narrows decisions would cause chaos in the natural resource sector, the impact of the two landmark rulings is in fact far more nuanced. At their core, the decisions continue a balancing act between empowering and limiting the authority of both Aboriginal peoples and governments. Far from a tilting of the playing field, they are more a rewritten rule book. ”What the Supreme Court of Canada has highlighted at a fundamental level is that Aboriginal communities have a right to an equitable place at the table in relation to natural resource development in Canada”, reads the report, titled “The End is Not Nigh: Reason over alarmism in analysing the Tsilhqot’in decision (PDF) ….”


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Ring of Fire News – September 8, 2014


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Habemus (start of) RoF Development Corporation!

This just out:

“Ontario has taken another step to drive progress in the Ring of Fire region, delivering on its July 3, 2014 commitment to establish a development corporation within 60 days. With headquarters to be located in Thunder Bay, the ROF Infrastructure Development Corporation (ROFIDC) will work to bring First Nations and the public and private sectors together to create partnerships and facilitate investment decisions in strategic transportation infrastructure ….”

A few more details from here and here ….

  • What’s the Corporation do?  “ROFIDC’s role is to: Encourage and assist exploration for and development of mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire by financing, building, operating and maintaining strategic transportation infrastructure including industrial and community access roads; Engage and consult with industry, government and aboriginal communities; Negotiate and facilitate agreements among key partners; Promote and foster economic development opportunities connected to exploration and development of mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire for First Nations located in the region as well as aboriginal and non-aboriginal persons and communities throughout the province”
  • Who’s on the board for now?  Ehren Cory, Executive Director for Infrastructure Ontario’s (IO) Transaction Structuring Risk and Commercial Projects division …. Rob Dowler, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for Economic Environment Justice and Intergovernmental Policy in Ontario’s Cabinet Office …. Linda McAusland, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Administrative Officer for the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) …. (and) Bill Thornton, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) of the Northern Development Division for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines”
  • When’s the full board going to be assembled?  “The board may be expanded to include additional directors as appropriate.”
  • How about that $1B dollars?  “The (Ontario) government has committed to provide up to $1 billion for strategic transportation in the Ring of Fire. The province expects that other partners, including industry and the federal government, will also contribute.”

 All before the 1 September 2014 deadline ….



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Ring of Fire News – August 26, 2014

  • Canada’s mines & energy ministers gathering in Sudbury  “The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, is co-chairing the annual Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference (EMMC) from August 24 to 26. This conference brings together federal, provincial and territorial ministers to discuss cooperation and opportunities related to energy and mines. This year’s EMMC is also co-chaired by Ontario’s Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy ….”
  • Canada’s NatRes Minister Greg Rickford: Not ready to pitch money into RoF infrastructure  “The federal government is not ready to make a $1-billion commitment to Ring of Fire infrastructure, said Greg Rickford, Canada’s minister of natural resources and FedNor. He made the statement in French, responding to a question from French media in Sudbury. Rickford said the feds have already made investments in the nearby First Nations to increase their educational opportunities. He said future federal funding for the Ring of Fire will need to be tied to specific projects with precise goals. “We’re obviously quite hopeful about what the Ring of Fire offers,” he said. “Not just in terms of its extraction activities, but the actual legacy of creating the infrastructure required to support this.” ….”
  • More from Rickford:  The Ontario Government should stay focused on deciding on a transportation corridor to get to the Ring of Fire and reaching revenue agreements with first nations before worrying about striking deals with the federal government on infrastructure projects. Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says the federal government is already involved in training and local infrastructure programs on first nations that will get people and communities ready when the area is opened to development ….”
  • Ontario’s mines minister Michael Gravelle: We’re still working on that Development Corporation thingy (even if the deadline’s September 1, 2014)   “While Michael Gravelle wasn’t ready to unveil a development corporation for the Ring of Fire yesterday, the Northern Development and Mines minister did tell an audience of policymakers and industry leaders from across Canada that action on this front is looming. “We are working very hard, right now, to get a corporation established and I will have an update on that very, very soon,” said Gravelle, during a keynote address at the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference at College Boreal. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne earlier promised her government would create a corporation to guide development of the James Bay chromite deposits within 60 days of the July 3 throne speech — in other words, by early September — and Gravelle said this remains the plan. “We will meet the commitment,” he pledged. Addressing federal colleague Greg Rickford, the Natural Resources minister and minister for FedNor, Gravelle said he looked forward “to having a more substantive conversation with you once we have the details in place on a development corporation.” ….”
  • (Not much) more on the RoF dev corp  “Mines Minister says province will meet early September deadline to establish corporation. Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said the province is not yet ready to announce a development corporation to lead infrastructure decisions around the Ring of Fire, despite a nearing self-imposed deadline. Gravelle was not able to share new information regarding the long-awaited development corporation at the 2014 Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in Sudbury ….” 
  • Webequie First Nation, one of the communities closest to the dormant Ring of Fire mineral camps, has reached an agreement with the Ontario government to do a community-based land use plan. A news release from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said a signing ceremony for the terms of reference was signed in the community on Aug. 21. The ministry’s land use planning process involves identifying areas that are both suitable and off-limits for resource development. In a statement, Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse wants a partnership with the government that respect their Aboriginal and treaty rights, including having a say on how their lands and resources will be developed. “Webequie’s primary objective is to ensure our community’s interests are protected now and for the future, including our traditional activities and values. We’re hopeful this process will help achieve these goals.” ….”
  • More environmental assessment training for First Nations  “This week, over 35 delegates from the Matawa and Mushkegowuk Nations will gather in Wahnapitae First Nation. The delegates are participating in a workshop organized by the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) and Four Rivers, Matawa’s environment office. The environmental training builds on the Chiefs of Ontario’s 2013 Environmental Assessment toolkit which offers high-level technical staff the opportunity to work with leading industry professionals and enable community experts to learn more about mining and environmental assessment processes. Participants will visit several mining sites in the area, attend workshops focused on negotiating skills and learn more about the job opportunities, training, and environmental considerations central to development in the Ring of Fire region ….”
  • James Bay area First Nations trying for a piece of the action  “The Mushkegowuk Council has announced they will coordinate the development of their business case in support of a Ring of Fire rail, sea port, fibre-optic, and energy transportation corridor through an Aboriginal-led-alliance. “We now have the experience, people, credibility and knowledge to take an active role in leading the development of infrastructure corridors. We have learned from our mistakes and we have the confidence from our successes” said Deputy Grand Chief Leo Friday. Deputy Grand Chief Leo Friday, on behalf of Mushkegowuk Council, announced to the Matawa Council of Chiefs at their annual general meeting on July 31st, 2014 that Mushkegowuk is fully supportive of Matawa’s interests in the Ring of Fire …. In the spirit of our joint declaration between Matawa and Mushkegowuk Chiefs, Mushkegowuk Council offered the Matawa Council of Chiefs to jointly develop sustainable infrastructure opportunities to unlock the economic potential of the Ring of Fire while safeguard ing the historic rivers of the Matawa and Mushkegowuk homelands ….”
  • Lawyer’s commentary on who can help bring together all the players, given how governments have been doing so far  “…. it is easy to see why governments and project proponents are at a standstill to lead the development of providing access to the Ring of Fire. Who can co-ordinate such a politically and legally complicated process? The mayors of northern Ontario municipalities are trying their best to coalesce an alliance of regional stakeholders but their clout is limited. A solution may lie with First Nations leadership ….”


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Ring of Fire News – August 13, 2014

  • “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, an iron ore and coal producer, (announced) that Lourenco Goncalves, a former steel company executive, was named to run the company after activist investor Casablanca Capital triumphed in a proxy battle.  Out is Gary Halverson of Sudbury as the company’s CEO.  The Cliffs board of directors named Goncalves as chairman, president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.  Goncalves was the preferred CEO candidate of Casablanca, the hedge fund investor that last week succeeded in getting a majority of its nominees appointed to the board.  Goncalves, a former CEO of Metals USA Holdings Corp, a manufacturer of steel and other metals, said in a statement he intended to refocus Cliffs “on a new strategic path” that builds on its strengths.  Analysts said Goncalves could pursue the sale of three of the company’s four operating segments: its Asia-Pacific iron ore business, its eastern Canadian iron ore operations and North American coal unit.  In an interview with Reuters in February, Goncalves said he would focus on supplying iron ore to steelmakers in the United States, not selling into the competitive global iron ore market, if he became Cliffs CEO ….” - more on the new CEO here and here
  • Glass-is-half-full assessment of shake-up @ Cliffs  “A boardroom shake-up at Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. has raised the likelihood that its international assets will hit the market, creating some intriguing buying opportunities for Canadian miners in their own backyard ….”
  • Glass-is-half-empty assessment  “The end of Cliffs in the Ring of Fire?”
  • Mining lawyer/analyst uses the baseball analogy on the Cliffs victory of sorts  “…. the infield looks like this: Cliffs has just hit a single, the environmental review is playing second base, First Nations are defending third, and Minister Mauro is umpiring behind home plate. And Cliffs’ dugout is in disarray with new management taking over the franchise back at headquarters. opefully Cliffs will make it around the bases. If and when they do, they will almost certainly have rewritten the project rulebook for mining in Ontario.  hat’s because the latest ruling stands as a legal primer, a testament to the fact that apparently everyone involved in the administration of mining claims in Ontario needed to go back to Mining 101 for a refresher course in order to do their jobs …”
  • More on the latest court outcomes  “A mining industry observer says a recent court ruling will do nothing to spur development in the Ring of Fire.  A divisional court ruled last week that Cliffs Natural Resources may apply to the province to build a road over KWG Resources’ land.  KWG had been withholding its consent.  Cliffs has said it wants to build a road to transport ore from the Ring of Fire in the Northwest.  In an interview last week, Cliffs vice-president Bill Boor said the decision was reason for optimism for Sudburians.  The company has floated the idea of a chromite smelter in Capreol.  But the head of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association said Cliffs still has to satisfy the minister, negotiate with Aboriginal groups and complete environmental assessments.  “If it’s a good step, I’m not sure for whom,” Dick Destefano said.  “But it seems to open up another avenue for discussion — which means another delay and another discussion, and another study.” ….” - more on the “Cliffs wins its road fight (sort of)” decision here
  • Another editorial reminder about all  the other players still in the Ring of Fire game  “What a difference a year makes. In 2013, Northwestern Ontario communities were giddy at the prospect of getting in on the tremendous economic opportunities connected to the Ring of Fire mining belt. Thunder Bay and Sudbury were fiercely competing to be the site of a processing facility while Greenstone and other centres were pitching themselves as logical transportation hubs.  Then the big player walked away. For a variety of reasons — provincial indecision, First Nations objections, competitors’ alternatives, falling commodity and stock prices — Cliffs Natural Resources ended its substantial exploration activities. A coup of sorts among shareholders put in place a new CEO who agreed to return Cliffs’ attention to its iron ore business which Thunder Bay area residents can see when they drive through northern Minnesota.  While Cliffs hasn’t abandoned its stake in the Ring’s massive chromite deposit other companies that remain active in the region are now getting all the attention ….”
  • Latest on Ontario’s promised $1B for Ring of Fire infrastructure  “The Minister of Northern Development and Mines believes stable federal funding for infrastructure is needed to ensure the province’s economic growth. But the province will still spend upwards of $1 billion on infrastructure for the Ring of Fire with, or without, federal backing …. Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, said the federal government needs to recognize that it plays an important role when it comes to Ontario’s infrastructure needs …. He repeated the call for Ottawa to match the $1 billion the province has already promised to develop the Ring of Fire — the largest mineral discovery in more than a century. The province has promised to keep the billion-dollar investment with or without federal support ….”
  • Think tank analyst:  power rates’ll affect chances of Ring of Fire development  “When I was a youngster, we had a neighbour who kept a jar of coins. When kids would visit, he’d offer the jar and say, “take as many as you like.” If you grabbed too many, your bulging fist wouldn’t make it through the neck of the jar. Lesson learned.  As the development of the Ring of Fire moves ahead, those involved will need to make complicated decisions on how much of the Ring’s wealth to keep in Ontario and how much to let go …. Right now, it’s debatable whether the Ring’s chromite will ever see an Ontario smelter due to provincial electrical costs ….”
  • First Nation training to take advantage of the Ring of Fire continues  “This year’s science and environment workshops at the Nibinamik Youth Retreat were part of the training for the RoFATA Environmental Monitoring Training Program.  “(The youth) really enjoyed it,” said Harry Bunting, a Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance (RoFATA) environmental monitoring student from Constance Lake. “They learned quite a bit actually, and so did I. I was able to do some sampling of fish, learned how to age a fish and what to do when you are sampling and doing your protocols to help assess the water quality and assess the environment itself.”  The Environmental Monitoring Training Program is being delivered by Four Rivers Matawa Environmental Services Group at the Matawa First Nations building in Thunder Bay ….”


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Ring of Fire News – August 2, 2014



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Ring of Fire News – July 23, 2014

  • Premier, yesterday during Question Period, on the $1B question  “We have committed to setting up a development corporation that would include all of the parties, and we very much hope that the federal government is at the table, because in order for that infrastructure to be completely developed and in order for those chromite and mineral deposits to be realized, we need everyone working together. We have committed $1 billion. We are firm in that commitment. We will work to set up a development corporation …. we are going ahead. We are working to set up the development corporation, because we believe that this is an opportunity that will benefit not just the region, not just the province, but the country.”
  • Toronto transportation consultant raises good question  “Trains or trucks? That is the burning question that must be answered in the debate over the Ring of Fire’s transportation options. In a bygone era, the overwhelming choice would have been rail. As generations of Canadian school children once learned, it was the railways that opened up Northern Ontario and most of the country, economically and socially. Even in the subsequent era when rail lost its monopoly, trains remained the winners when it came to providing access to large, long-term resource developments. The construction of the CP and CN branch lines to Manitouwadge’s copper mines in the 1950s is a prime example. But trains haven’t fared well in these competitions in Canada in recent years, even as they are growing in importance in other developed and developing nations. Consequently, many rail proponents regard the Ring of Fire’s modal choice a litmus test for the direction of transportation policy, federally and provincially. Will rail solutions once again be part of the Canadian planning and decision-making processes? ….”
  • Green Party on the Ring of Fire  “A motion calling for responsible development of the Ring of Fire, passed at the Green Party of Canada’s biennial meeting in Fredericton, puts “the party in the game” and shows it has good ideas other parties might want to consider. Sudbury’s Steve May attended the convention and was surprised to learn every person attending had heard about the rich chromite deposits 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay — whether they were from British Columbia or New Brunswick. May has been thinking of the Ring of Fire as a regional issue, “but had I lived in Alberta in the early ’80s, I might have thought the development of the tar sands was a regional issue. “We know it’s not,” he said of the Ring of Fire. “It’s a national project.” Before delegates to the convention met, they agreed to put a motion on the weekend agenda calling for a five-pillar policy to develop the area. It addresses community benefits, energy, transportation, value-added industry and lifecycle planning for extracted resources. To maximize the Ring of Fire’s economic potential for Canada, the Greens’ policy is calling for the creation of a working group to assess the feasibility of a value-added stainless steel industry as a requirement of development ….”Green Party news release on convention (no apparent links to resolutions passed)
  • More on Aboriginals training to be ready for Ring of Fire jobs  “Better career options are the goal for many of the Matawa First Nations trainees currently pursuing Ring of Fire Training Alliance (RoFATA) Tier 2 and 3 training. “(My goal is) to eventually get a really good career where I can support my family and move out of Thunder Bay into a different community,” said Caitlin Cheechoo, mother of a three-year-old son and one of about 60 Tier 3 RoFATA trainees who have completed about three weeks of their 12-week program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. “Right now, all together, we’re learning the math and English components and then we branch out to our own individual (pre-trades program).” Cheechoo is focusing on the Pre-Trades Carpentry program, one of five programs offered through the Tier 3 RoFATA training. The other programs are: Pre-Trades Electrical, Pre-Trades Plumber, Pre-Trades Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic and Pre-Trades Construction Craft Worker. “I just like the hands-on working with everything,” Cheechoo said ….”
  • Documentary film maker eyes Ring of Fire  “Lalita Krishna has no intention of following the same contrived script that’s evident in the mining reality shows currently being embraced by network television. The award-winning Toronto producer of television documentaries intends to drill down to the essence of the multi-faceted world of mining by documenting the lives of the people who toil at the grassroots edge of the industry. Krishna recalls spending four bone-chilling days with Barb Courte Elinesky, CEO of two Thunder Bay drilling companies, and her rugged crew shooting video in a remote exploration site in Greenstone last March. The conditions were harsh, a vehicle became stuck on an access road, and they returned to their hotel in Beardmore one night after an exhausting day to find all the restaurants closed. “When I was with Barb in that extreme environment; the drama happens naturally, you don’t have to create those situations or stage anything.” The mining industry is new subject matter for the Indian-born Krishna, who worked as a producer at TV Ontario before venturing out on her own as an independent documentary producer ….”
  • KWG Resources Inc. announces that it will not reconvene its Annual and General Meeting of Shareholders on July 30, 2014 at 11:00 am (local time) at the offices of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Suite 3800, Royal Bank Plaza, South Tower, 200 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario. The special resolutions to amend the Company’s articles to include the authority to issue preference shares and to let all shareholders wishing to do so acquire with each fifty of their present shares one new multiple-voting share (provided that these may be converted back into the fifty subordinate voting shares at any subsequent time of their choosing) have been withdrawn. “While there is substantial support for both initiatives, some of our largest shareholders feel that they would prefer to have an opportunity to subsequently approve the specifics of any proposed preferred share issue when terms have been negotiated,” explained KWG President Frank Smeenk ….”


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Questions about RoF Development Corp?

  • May 25, 2014, CBC.ca:  “…. Wynne …. re-launched the creation of the Ring of Fire development corporation. The corporation had been previously announced, but the Liberals now say they will create the consortium within 60 days of being elected ….”
  • July 3, 2014, “Speech from the Throne to open the 41st Parliament of Ontario” “…. Within the next 60 days, your government will establish a Ring of Fire development corporation and move forward in a smart, sustainable and collaborative way with First Nations, the private sector and communities to unlock the enormous mineral potential in Northern Ontario ….”
  • July 16, 2014, Sudbury Star “Significant work is being done to establish a Ring of Fire development corporation and keep a campaign promise that it be done within 60 days of a Liberal government being elected.  But it’s not clear when the clock began ticking on that 60-day guarantee, says Michael Gravelle, who was reappointed Northern Development and Mines minister by Premier Kathleen Wynne.  Nor is it clear what exactly is meant by “establishing” the development corporation.  Gravelle doesn’t know if the 60 days started when he was sworn in June 24 or when his government delivered its Throne Speech on July 3.  And he and his staff are working to determine what exactly will be in put place during the 60-day commitment.  “We are not there yet in terms of determining exactly what form it will take other than that we are grateful to have the opportunity to move this project forward and to have this kind of a timeline in place,” said Gravelle in a telephone interview Tuesday from Queen’s Park ….”

If you believe the campaign speech, the deadline is August 11th.

If you believe the Speech from the Throne, the deadline is September 1.

The clock is ticking – pick your time to set the alarm.

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