- If wasn’t official before, it sure is now …. “The federal environmental assessment of Cliffs Natural Resources’ chromite project in the Ring of Fire has been terminated. The Cleveland-based iron ore miner notified the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) on Jan. 5 that it wanted to halt the comprehensive study process that began in September 2011. The CEAA posted the notice of termination on its website, Feb. 5 ….”
- “Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Lawrence Martin says the chiefs and Elders who gathered in Kashechewan last week agreed to the idea of taking over Ontario Northland Railway and extending rail service to the Ring Of Fire. Along with that, Martin said he wants Timmins to be included in the venture with this city becoming the site of a new chromite ore refinery. Timmins Mayor Steve Black said he supports the Mushkegowuk initiative ….”
- “A high-profile group of municipal, provincial and First Nations leaders gathered at Sault Ste. Marie’s Delta Hotel (last) Thursday morning to discuss the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario …. “I’m interested in getting updated on the progress of the Plan, and we are constantly looking to the provincial government for funding,” said Brian Bigger, Sudbury mayor. “The intermodal transportation study is important to us…(in addition to) mining and the progress on mining research and development and moving towards the Ring of Fire.” ….”
- “The Nishnawbe Aski Nation is resubmitting an unpaid bill in the amount of $127 million to Ontario as part of the province’s budget consultation process. The provincial treaty organization, representing 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, hired York University economics professor Fred Lazar to calculate the current value of resources extracted from its traditional territories between 1911 and 2011. In Lazar’s 2012 report he pegged the figure at 3.2 billion dollars, and then broke that down to an annuity, with a four per cent interest rate, that would amount to 127 million dollars per year, in perpetuity. Nisnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Les Louttit said he doesn’t really expect the province to cut a cheque “but there are ways in which they can invest into Nishnawbe Aski First Nations to improve the value and quality of our lifestyles in our communities.” ….”
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According to this media account:
- The two Ministers spent about an hour together with “senior officials” from both Ontario and Canada.
- Ontario mines minister Gravelle confirms Noront Eagle’s Nest property is “the project that will open up the Ring of Fire.”
- Ontario is working on an application to Building Canada Fund, with Gravelle saying any projects “will respect the environmental assessment process and extensive consultations with First Nations in the Ring of Fire area.”
- Other priorities discussed at the meeting include expansion of broadband and expanding hydro power to First Nations in the area.
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- The Ministers Meet! “The $53-billion Building Canada Fund could be the catalyst to create a legacy resource development in the resource-rich Ring of fire, say Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources and Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Greg Rickford and Michael Gravelle met Tuesday to discuss the potential development, which has been stalled by a number of obstacles, including the cost of transporting the ore out of Ontario’s north to a processing facility. The two ministers released a joint statement after their get-together, calling it a construcitve meeting. Rickford said the federal government will entertain new proposals to develop projects in the region, provided they are specific and tangible. The discussion centred on further co-operation on infrastructure matters and access to remote communities. Last year the province committed $1 billion to the project, but stressed the importance of the federal government matching the dollars. Rickford and Gravelle each agreed on the importance of minister-to-minister meetings and promised to meet again in the near future.” – Minsters’ joint statement (via @HonGregRickford Twitter feed) – Mention of meeting during 27 Jan 2015 question period in House of Commons – more – more
- More (pre-meeting) from Canada’s RoF minister “The much vaunted Ring Of Fire mining development is bogged down in bureaucratic studies along with bickering over where to build a new road, or rail link, to what is clearly the newest, richest and most promising mining development in Ontario so far this century. That was part of the assessment offered last week at an impromptu news scrum with federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, the MP for Kenora and the minister for FedNor. But Rickford also said he is still hopeful the project will blossom ….”
- Latest (pre-meeting) from Ontario’s mines’ minister “When it comes to working with first nations to develop framework agreements for developing the Ring of Fire and approving environmental assessments for projects there, the Liberal government is “absolutely on top of it,” says Ontario’s mines minister. Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said the province is continuing its “good work” on framework agreements and advancing the development corporation established to design and build infrastructure for the Ring of Fire. The interim part of the development corporation is in place, Gravelle said in Sudbury on Friday, during a visit to boost the campaign of Liberal byelection candidate Glenn Thibeault. The next stage is bringing the province’s full partners on board, including companies with holdings in the Ring of Fire, 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Gravelle said he’s also looking forward to having more formal discussions with FedNor and Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford about the federal government’s “full engagement, if not matching dollars related to the project.” ….”
- A (reportedly) high-level federal interest in a First Nation RoF rail plan …. “The Prime Minister’s Office has expressed interest in a First Nations-led plan to build a new seaport and railroad across northern Ontario to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit, an election-year effort that would rival Premier Kathleen Wynne’s own designs for the region. The Mushkegowuk Council and TGR Rail Company are preparing a joint purchase of the Ontario Northland rail line between North Bay and Moosonee, pending the First Nation group’s approval from its council of chiefs this week, said Mushkegowuk Council grand chief Lawrence Martin Friday. The plan would open the door to a east-to-west rail, transmission line and telecommunications corridor to the Ring of Fire, a 5,120 square kilometre crescent of ore that could bring a $9.4 billion increase to Ontario’s GDP over the next decade if developed. After more than a year of what Wynne has characterized as foot dragging from Ottawa on a federal-provincial plan, the PMO and Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford’s office called (TGR) Rail in the past three weeks expressing interest in the new plan, Martin told iPolitics. “We’ve even had a call from the PMO office asking for information for our project,” said Martin, adding it was TGR Rail, a Toronto-based rail company, that took the call. “It’s gaining momentum, so it looks like it’s going ahead.” TGR Rail would not comment on the corridor plan, saying only that the firm would issue a news release Monday. The PMO also did not respond to a request to clarify their interest in the Mushkegowuk plan ….” – more
- …. is not matched at this point by Ontario’s interest “The Ontario government is shooting down a joint venture acquisition proposal being floated by Mushkegowuk Council and a Toronto rail provider that the rail arm of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) is available for sale. Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle released a statement that the ONTC will remain a Crown agency. “Our government has been clear – ONTC’s motor coach, Polar Bear Express, rail freight, and refurbishment services will remain in public hands. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure sustainable employment, continued economic growth, and a strong transportation network in northeastern Ontario through transformation of the ONTC.” ….” – more – more
- New Face at Ontario’s Mines Ministry Not Really A New Face to RoF “Dive into David de Launay’s bio and it’s easy to decipher how two decades of provincial policy and special project work have prepared him for the job as Ontario’s new deputy minister for Northern Development and Mines. Not surprisingly, finding a way to jumpstart the stalled Ring of Fire project is top of mind for de Launey who slid into the chair in early January after his predecessor George Ross left last summer to take a similar posting with the Government of the Yukon. De Launey is not a new player being introduced into the fray. He shifts over from Aboriginal Affairs where he was deputy minister. Prior to that he was assistant deputy minister with the Ring of Fire Secretariat, handling relations with First Nation communities impacted by the potential mine development, and served stints with Cabinet Office and Natural Resources ….”
- Commentary “Everyone agrees the Ring of Fire has the potential to have a huge impact on our region, the province and the country. Unfortunately, that seams to be as far as the parties involved in this mineral-rich project can go in terms of agreeing on anything ….“
- Mining and Lands Commissioner Decision on Mining Claims on RoF Easement STILL in the Courts “The legal fight over a staked access corridor to the Ring of Fire mineral deposits goes back into the courtroom in a few months. KWG Resources reported Jan. 27 that it has received an order from the Ontario Court of Appeal to challenge a decision by an Ontario Divisional Court regarding use of surface rights on its mining claims. On July 30, the court set aside a decision by the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner that denied Cliffs Natural Resources an easement for a road in order to have overland access to its Black Thor chromite deposit. Cliffs’ proposed road would run atop some of the mining claims of its bitter rival, KWG. The court found no evidence that a road would interfere with KWG’s exploration since the claims were staked with the intent of building a 330-kilometre long railroad into the James Bay region. In a news release, KWG said it expects to file its notice of appeal by January 30, after which it would have a further 30-day opportunity to perfect its appeal. The respondent, Cliffs, would be able to file its response 60 days later. KWG expects the hearing date to be sometime in early summer ….”
- Some $ for one First Nation to consult on Noront’s Eagle’s Nest project “The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has allocated a total of $28,200 to Eabametoong First Nation to support its participation in consultation activities related to the environmental assessment of the proposed Eagle’s Nest Project, located in Ontario. This funding was made available to Aboriginal groups through the Participant Funding Program administered by the Agency, and will enable participation in upcoming steps of the environmental assessment, such as consultation related to the Environmental Impact Statement and the review of the Comprehensive Study Report ….” – CEAA project page for Eagle’s Nest
- “Iron ore and coal miner Cliffs Natural Resources Inc said it reduced net debt by $400 million and scrapped its quarterly dividend to cut more debt. The company, whose shares were up 1% in premarket trading, had total debt of $3.25 billion as of Sept. 30. Cliffs’ debt has ballooned as coal and iron ore prices slumped due to excess supplies and sluggish steel demand from China. Cliffs wrote down the value of its coal and iron ore assets by about $6 billion in October due to weak prices, and warned a month later that it might have to close its Bloom Lake iron ore mine in Quebec ….” – News release: “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. Announces $400 Million Net Debt Reduction and Elimination of Common Share Dividend”
- More on Cliffs Shedding Assets Elsewhere “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) announced today that Bloom Lake General Partner Limited and certain of its affiliates, including Cliffs Quebec Iron Mining ULC commenced restructuring proceedings in Montreal, Quebec, under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (Canada) (“CCAA”). The Bloom Lake Group had recently suspended operations and for several months has been exploring options to sell certain of its Canadian assets, among other initiatives. The decision to seek protection under the CCAA was based on a thorough legal and financial analysis of the options available to the Bloom Lake Group. The Bloom Lake Group is no longer generating any revenues and is not able to meet its obligations as they come due. The Initial CCAA Order will address the Bloom Lake Group’s immediate liquidity issues and permit the Bloom Lake Group to preserve and protect its assets for the benefit of all stakeholders while restructuring and sale options are explored. As part of the CCAA process, the Court has appointed FTI Consulting Canada Inc. as the Monitor. The Monitor’s role in the CCAA process is to monitor the activities of the Bloom Lake Group and provide assistance to the Bloom Lake Group and its stakeholders in respect of the CCAA process ….”
- Kapuskasing Mayor Alan Spacek Disagrees with Northern Policy Institute’s Read of “not enough federal transfer payments around here” “…. “I couldn’t disagree more,” he commented. “You just have to look around at what was invested in Northern Ontario by FedNor last week and there’s tangible proof of their interest, confidence and investment in the region. (FedNor) Minister Rickford has probably spent more time traveling the north, listening to northerners and reacting than any other Minister to date. Further to that, he is on the record numerous times, stating the federal government’s support and willingness to be involved in the Ring Of Fire once there’s a process to take part in. To make a blanket statement like that to me is most unfortunate.” ….”
- The Latest Roundup of Whazzup with Resource Revenue Sharing across Canada “The Saskatchewan government and some other provinces may have to rethink their refusal to share resource revenue with First Nations, says the author of a national research paper. An increasing number of provinces, as well as corporations and the courts, are embracing the idea. “Some people get nervous about it, (but) there are a whole bunch of good reasons to do it,” Ken Coates, the University of Saskatchewan Canada Research Chair for Regional Innovation said in an interview. The Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute has released Coates’ 44-page paper (PDF) entitled “Sharing the Wealth: How Resource Revenue Agreements Can Honour Treaties, Improve Communities, and Facilitate Canadian Development.” Coates said sharing a portion of resource wealth with First Nations seemed ludicrous to those in power just a decade or two ago. “The rules have changed,” he said …. Resource rich jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Quebec, the Northwest Territories, and Newfoundland are embracing resource revenue sharing. They devote set percentages of revenues to First Nations from mining, hydroelectricity and other projects. Others such as Ontario are studying the issue ….” - more in think tank news release
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- What Business Wants in the RoF (1) “Northwestern chambers of commerce urged the Wynne government to rein in spending, get cracking on the Ring of Fire, address the growing skills gap, and strive to deliver cheaper power to Northern manufacturers. The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce (NOACC) issued a joint release that they submitted their input during pre-budget consultations. “We highlighted the incredible opportunity in the mining sector and the need for provincial support through investments in infrastructure and skills training to ensure we can realize the potential,” said NOACC president Nathan Lawrence. “Bold action” is needed to balance the provincial budget or since the government’s fiscal situation poses “negative consequences for all Ontarians.” The chambers said investor confidence in Ontario is being hurt by delays in drawing up the Ring of Fire environmental assessment process and the failure on the government’s part to bring in Ottawa as a development partner ….”
- What Business Wants in the RoF (2) “Businesses in the region have a few ideas for the province before it unveils its latest budget. In a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce have highlighted mining, energy and skills shortages as key areas it wants the province to focus on. That and addressing the deficit, which local chamber president Charla Robinson said is limiting the province’s ability to invest in areas to grow the economy …. On mining, the chambers want to see progress in the Ring of Fire, specifically in getting Noront Resources the approval it needs to work on its environmental assessment. Robinson said there is a way for the company to continue that work while the province negotiates with the Matawa Tribal Council. “Right now they’re basically sitting and waiting,” she said of Noront ….”
- What James Bay First Nations Want in the RoF “The Mushkegowuk Tribal Council is considering the idea of teaming up with a Southern Ontario rail company to purchase the rail division of Ontario Northland with an eye to expanding rail service on the James Bay Coast and eventually to the Ring Of Fire mining development. Mushkegowuk represents the First Nations Communities along the James Bay Coast. Mushkegowuk grand chief Lawrence Martin revealed Thursday afternoon that his organization has been approached by TGR Rail Canada Ltd, which is one of the companies bidding on the divestment of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. “They gave us a proposal to consider in which we would look at an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) to discuss the possibility of a partnership with them,” said grand chief Martin, speaking to the Aboriginal Energy Symposium in Timmins Thursday afternoon …. “…. “I can’t discuss amounts at the moment, but we have the funds to do whatever is required,” (Ron Dancey, the chairman of the board for TGR Rail) added. “We have the financing in place to purchase the ONR and to do the upgrades to the ONR. We also have financing arrangements in place to extend it up to the Ring Of Fire.” ….” – more – more
- What the Green Party Wants in the RoF “David Robinson says he has a comprehensive plan that would move the Ring of Fire development plan forward. The Ring of Fire is a rich ore deposit in a remote section of northwestern Ontario, which no land transportation access, but a promise of billions of dollars worth of chromite and other metals. The province has taken heat for not producing a plan to allow development to move forward, and work in the area has effectively stalled. Robinson, the Green Party candidate in the Sudbury riding byelection, said his plan includes developing a regional governance structure for those areas of Northern Ontario without functioning local governments. Regional government for the Far North will greatly strengthen the voice of people living in the area – and those expected to reside in the North when the Ring of Fire is developed ….”
- Feds (Still) Not Happy “The much vaunted Ring Of Fire mining development is bogged down in bureaucratic studies along with bickering over where to build a new road, or rail link, to what is clearly the newest, richest and most promising mining development in Ontario so far this century. That was part of the assessment offered in Timmins this week at an impromptu news scrum with federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, the MP for Kenora and the minister for FedNor. But Rickford also said he is still hopeful the project will blossom …. Speaking in Timmins Tuesday, Rickford said it has become obvious that the private sector is not willing to move forward on the development at this time. “Obviously the Ring Of Fire and the platinum group of metals represents an opportunity at some point,” Rickford told reporters. “The market has had trouble of getting to the point where any company can justify moving ahead very quickly with an extractive exercise. “But as I have always said, the real economic legacy is actually setting up the infrastructure for this. And that’s what we’ve been focused on. The Build Canada fund is intended to focus on infrastructure projects.” Rickford did not specifically throw darts at Queen’s Park, but he said the Ring of Fire development corporation set up by the Liberals last summer is not working. That agency is run by four senior public servants ….”
- KWG Picks New Info-machine “KWG Resources Inc. is pleased to announce that it has retained the services of RBL Communications Inc. (“RBL”) to implement and manage a complete online awareness and marketing program (the “Program”). Over the next 12 months, the Program will provide KWG with exposure on prominent Tier 1 Financial websites such as Kitco, Stockhouse, Seeking Alpha, Reuters and many others. Additionally, RBL will blueprint and develop a brand new KWG website featuring a responsive design, SEO framework and full social media integration. The Program is designed to significantly enhance KWG’s online footprint and allow for near real-time distribution of news, updates, interviews, and media ….”
- Some Kudos to a RoF Pioneer “MacKenzie (Mac) Watson, one of the Ring of Fire discoverers, was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, Jan. 15 in Toronto …. As president of Freewest Resources and Quest Uranium, Watson has been associated with the discoveries of the Holloway gold mine, the chromite deposits in the Ring of Fire, and the Strange Lake rare earths project in Quebec. He has provided bursary and scholarship support to his alma mater, the University of New Brunswick, Lakehead University, and has mentored young geoscientists and served with industry associations ….” – Watson’s Mining Hall of Fame profile
- More general legal analysis about consulting First Nations in general “The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has released two recent seminal decisions that will significantly impact resource development projects where Aboriginal interests might be affected. As M&A activity in the infrastructure, oil and gas and mining sectors unfolds in 2015, we expect buyers of and investors in Canadian targets involved in resource development to pay increasing attention to whether appropriate consultation and accommodation have occurred with local Aboriginal communities, particularly those with existing or potential title claims ….” – PDF version of article
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- PM, Ontario Premier (briefly) talk RoF face-to-face 5 Jan 2015 in Toronto “Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she received no specific commitments from Prime Minister Stephen Harper at their first face-to-face meeting in more than a year …. Harper and Wynne discussed the economy, the importance of ongoing investments in infrastructure, including in the Ring of Fire, the auto sector, provincial trade barriers and the quality of First Nations’ drinking water ….” – more – more
- From the PM’s statement on the meeting “…. They spoke of a number of important issues related to jobs and the economy. Specifically, they agreed on the importance of ongoing investments in infrastructure, including the federal government’s new Building Canada Fund. They also discussed the need to remove barriers to internal trade, the importance of continued support from both levels of government for the manufacturing and automotive sectors, as well as the important role of resource development for the Ontario and Canadian economies ….”
- This from Ontario’s mines’ minister post-PM-Premier-meeting “A collaborative partnership between the provincial and federal government is crucial in developing the Ring of Fire. That’s what Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle said is clear after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper met early Monday evening to discuss the economy, including nationally significant infrastructure projects like the Ring of Fire. Gravelle said he had already spoken to Conservative Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford over the holidays about the mining project, but the recent meeting between the two leaders has encouraged the two ministers to speak further on the topic ….”
- Council of Canadians rep on the PM-Premier meeting: RoF could help some FNs (and hurt the water of others) “…. The “ironic” part is that along with the water contamination risks of extracting $30-billion worth of chromite over a 5,000-kilometre area of pristine wilderness, which would include tailings ponds for the mining waste and hydro-electric dams to power the operations, the road would go through boreal forest and over several major waterways posing further water risks in the traditional lands of the Marten Falls, Webequie, Neskantaga and other First Nations. The Neskantaga First Nation has been without potable water since 1995. So, did Harper and Wynne discuss access to water for First Nations only in the context of advancing a water-destructive mining agenda? ….”
- This from the Chief of Webequie First Nation on the RoF in general “We have heard a lot in the news recently about whether resource development in the Ring of Fire in Ontario will ever become a reality. Newspapers are filled with discussion about why progress has not been faster, of companies abandoning development projects, and of concerns that Ring of Fire development may never be achieved. These discussions focus on the wrong questions. If Ring of Fire development is to be successful, the question should not be whether the development is happening fast enough. It should be whether the process is taking place based on a foundation of recognition and respect for Webequie First Nation and the other Indigenous nations who call this land home ….”
- “KWG Resources Inc. announces that it has received from the US Patent Office’s International Searching Authority the International Search Report in response to its application to patent a new process for the direct reduction of chromite utilizing natural gas, a carbon reductant, and a catalyst formulation. The Search Report indicates that the Searcher found the applicant’s claims are novel and that prior art does not teach or fairly suggest anything similar. The Report also indicates that the claims have industrial applicability as defined by PCT Article 33(4) because the subject matter can be made or used in industry. “This is a major step forward in our prosecution of this patent application,” said KWG President Frank Smeenk. “We will now determine in which countries to seek patent protection of this process, beyond Canada and the United States of America. Our discussions and negotiations with chromite industry participants have helped us understand how and where this innovation might best be commercialized, as we have recently shared with Minister Rickford as he requested.” ….”
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- Canada, Ontario to talk RoF – After months of back and forth over funding for RoF infrastructure, federal RoF Minister Greg Rickford has said he’s willing to sit down and talk with Ontario’s Mines Minister Michael Gravelle about how things should unfold in the mining development. Even the PM and Ontario’s Premier reportedly talked about the RoF. Rickford’s also been clear, though, about concerns with ….
- The RoF Infrastructure Development Corporation – At the end of August, Ontario announced the set up of the DevCorp, but federal Minister Rickford isn’t happy for a number of reasons, mostly because it appears the board is just made up of nothing but provincial bureaucrats (for the moment, anyway).
- Ontario, First Nations sign Framework Agreement – Even though in March, Ontario and northern Ontario First Nations signed a Framework Agreement covering how things will happen in the RoF – and it’s a priority for Ontario’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer to implement, according to his Mandate Letter….
- …. the very same Chiefs who signed the agreement have also called for a freeze on exploration permits in September because there have reportedly been permits issued to companies who haven’t consulted the First Nations, something the Matawa Chiefs say goes against the Framework Agreement. Although the courts say First Nations have no veto power over developments, it’ll be tough to move things forward without some level of OK from those affected.
- Cliffs sells off RoF camp, offers to sell properties – Further nailing Cliffs’ chromite coffin shut, so to speak, Noront announced the purchase of Cliffs’ McFauld Lake camp in May and KWG and Noront said in September they would be interested in buying Cliffs’ RoF mineral properties. In spite of KWG’s and Noront’s optimism, the new CEO for Cliffs Laurenco Gonsalves told the Financial Post, “I don’t believe under my watch, and I plan to stay [alive] for the next 50 years… that the Ring of Fire will be developed,” blocked, he says, by a lack of progress on dealing with First Nations on infrastructure issues.
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
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- Ontario asks (again) …. “The province has formally asked for the federal government to match its $1 billion commitment to Ring of Fire infrastructure. Provincial Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle and federal Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford still haven’t spoken since Rickford called out the province in the House of Commons last month saying its much-touted $1 billion commitment wasn’t actual policy. But last Thursday Gravelle sent Rickford a letter saying that the province has submitted its application under the federal government’s Building Canada fund to get Canada to match the figure. Gravelle said the ask, formally submitted by economic development minister Brad Duguid, was very detailed. “There have been many detailed discussions about it beforehand as there will be afterword,” Gravelle said. “Certainly the federal government is very familiar with the project. They’re very familiar with the infrastructure needs.” Ontario is eligible for around $2.7 billion under the fund. But the province chose instead to try and access the $4 billion unallocated so far and set aside in the fund for national infrastructure, something Gravelle said the federal government needs to recognize ….”
- …. and Canada responds – with a bit of a threat thrown in “Ontario’s plan for the remote Ring of Fire mineral deposit has “serious structural problems” according to the federal Natural Resources Minister, and that’s why Greg Rickford says Canada is cautious about partnering with the province to build roads and power lines …. He outlined what he describes as three key structural problems with Ontario’s approach that “only the province can resolve.” The slow pace of talks with First Nations on “own source revenue” also known as resource revenue sharing – “They have a mandate to negotiate a mandate to negotiate,” Rickford said; The Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner’s intervention on the potential north-south transportation route – “It shouldn’t have even come to a decision anyway, but that stifled discussions around any road options that could also serve as electricity corridors,” he said; The makeup of the Ring of Fire Development Corporation – Rickford said the federal government would be “loathe” to invest money “to park it in a development corporation that Ontario senior bureaucrats would administer… That’s not an option for us, it’s not an option for the First Nations, it’s not an option for the private sector.” It is possible for a mining company and a First Nation to partner on a proposal to the Building Canada Fund without the province, Rickford said. It would be “unfortunate” if the province were cut out of the opportunity to play a key role in the development but “we’re not far off of that place,” he said ….”
- More detail from Rickford: “…. Despite several announcements, no one knows anything about the Ring of Fire development corporation beyond the fact that so far its board is made up of four senior provincial bureaucrats. It cannot be a policy option and will not be until stakeholders have at least seen how it’s going to work Rickford said. “Let’s get this straight. Neither the federal government, any of the private sector companies and importantly the First Nations communities have seen any documents, not articles of incorporation, not policy position statements on what the devco would do except administer all of this money that we would apparently pour into it,” Rickford said. “We don’t drop off money into a devco where we don’t have any ability to even so much as sit on its board and have a decision making capacity. That’s not an option for us.” “
- Still, it looks like a meeting’s coming between Rickford and Gravelle: “High-level government talks on infrastructure development in the Ring of Fire mining area are imminent. Federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said Wednesday that he will be discussing Ring of Fire infrastructure projects with (Ontario’s) Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle in the new year. Rickford said he was pleased to get a letter last week from Gravelle requesting the meeting. “We see this letter as a positive signal that the province is interested in joining the federal government, First Nations and industry in a more refined discussion on what we feel is important (infrastructure development) in the RoF,” said Rickford. “Gravelle’s letter, in short, sends a strong message – we can now all work together on a proposal to the Building Canada Fund. This letter means the RoF is a priority for the provincial government and they are willing to move forward on specific projects ….”
- Commentary on the federal-provincial RoF tug o’ war “…. The issues between the Ontario and Canadian governments appear to be a combination of political direction, and personalities. That could include a cup of political ideology in the recipe that is making the end result for the Ring of Fire a more bitter recipe for Northwestern Ontario …. This impasse is happening, and seemingly, left on the sidelines are the mining companies who are watching the value of their investment slowly drip down the drain. Activity in Northwestern Ontario’s mining sector needs more action. Without the active engagement of governments, it is likely that getting the Ring of Fire going will take a lot longer than proponents will be able to wait.”
- More on resource revenue sharing in Ontario, courtesy of page 30 of this Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada report (PDF): “…. There have been some initial negotiations on GRRS planning in the Ring of Fire, located in northern Ontario. In 2012, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines updated a Memorandum of Co-operation (MOC) with Webequie First Nation to discuss providing Webequie with “social, community and economic development supports and resource revenue sharing associated with mine developments in the Ring of Fire.” Additionally, in July 2013, the Ontario government appointed the Honourable Frank Iacobucci as the lead negotiator for Ontario to participate in discussions with the Matawa member First Nations related to proposed development in the Ring of Fire. Consideration was given to resource revenue sharing, along with environmental monitoring, infrastructure and economic supports. In March 2014, the parties signed a framework agreement o guide negotiations on these issues ….”
- “Noront Resources Limited President and CEO Al Coutts is looking to get mining. The Noront President says that getting moving on the Ring of Fire is important for Ontario. Coutts shares in an interview with NetNewsLedger, what is key is for Ontario to move forward on the permitting process, while it is working on the Regulatory Framework Agreement. The Ring of Fire chromite discovery in Northwestern Ontario offers opportunity for the region. “Getting the Ring of Fire right,” has been the message from the province of Ontario and Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle. Often it is the quiet player who is the one to watch. In the Ring of Fire, Noront Resources has been quietly doing things right ….”
- One analyst’s take “Cliffs Natural Resources: Time To Be Bearish Again? — Cliffs Natural Resources shares remain under pressure despite the fact that iron ore prices have recently stabilized. Clearly, the overall bearish outlook for iron ore prices weighs on the company’s valuation ….”
- Another analyst’s take “If You Believe In Cliffs Natural Resources, Consider The Preferred Shares …. The share price of Cliffs Natural Resources has declined substantially lately. However, if you believe in the company, there is an interesting value proposition being offered in the form of equity designation you choose ….”
- Environmental group, worried about caribou habitat, (again) calls for “regional strategic environmental assessment” in RoF area: “In Ontario we’re particularly concerned about a proposed 300km transmission line designed to supply power from Ignace/Dryden through high-risk caribou ranges to Pickle Lake; the five-year exemption for forestry activities from the Endangered Species Act; and active discussions of plans for roads, hydro lines and other infrastructure to allow industrial access to the Far North including the Ring of Fire,” said Anna Baggio, Director, Conservation Planning for CPAWS Wildlands League.” National news release here, full report here (although it doesn’t mention RoF specifically)
- Interesting, but not ENTIRELY surprising …. “For the first time, the amount of money northeastern Ontario First Nations receive from agreements with private resource companies has been made public. The figures were included in financial documents posted under the new First Nations Transparency Act. Many bands have been reluctant to discuss specific figures in the past and the impact benefit agreements often prohibit the companies from discussing payment to neighbouring First Nations without band permission …. Most First Nations in northeastern Ontario do get some amount of money from a mining, forestry or power company. All of the bands along the James Bay Coast receive money from DeBeers, for its Victor diamond mine near Attawapiskat ….”
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Obviously, jihadi videos have very, very little to do with the Ring of Fire.
Apologies for populating your e-mail box needlessly – my mistake.
Thanks for your patience.
Filed under: Uncategorized