Ring of Fire News

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

Ring of Fire News, Week ending 27 Jun 11

The Ring of Fire News blog shares public information in accordance with the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act, and is not responsible for the accuracy of the original material.  Inclusion of material or sources here should not imply endorsement or otherwise by the Ring of Fire News blog.


  • The Matawa First Nation communities have been offered up to $9.6 million over three years to develop core capacity to participate in the Ring of Fire initiative. “The funding was intended to support whatever specific community needs were identified,” said Christine Kaszycki, Ontario’s Ring of Fire coordinator. “There are a range of things that are available and the communities have the opportunity to submit a funding request and through that identify the approach that they would be taking as part of their proposal.” The Ring of Fire has been a hotbed of mineral exploration activity in recent years, home to a potentially large deposit of chromite, a mineral used to make stainless steel. The area is located in the James Bay lowlands near the traditional territories of Webequie and Marten Falls. The five remote fly-in communities of Eabametoong, Marten Falls, Neskantaga, Nibinamik and Webequie have been offered $1.5 million over three years, the three communities along Hwy. 11, Constance Lake, Ginoogaming and Long Lake #58, have been offered $450,000 over three years and Aroland has been offered $750,000 over three years….” (Source:  Wawatay News, 24 Jun 11)
  • Ontario Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, Michael Gravelle, told a Ring of Fire transportation conference in Thunder Bay that other governments, not just Ontario, will have to contribute to developing any transportation infrastructure into the Ring of Fire area.  (Source:  CBQ-FM Thunder Bay, 23 Jun 11)
  • Speaking at the same conference, Gravelle was quoted saying, “The decision on the location (of processing facilities) is ultimately production-driven, and will be made by the (mining) companies based on factors including sustainability, cost and profitability…. We expect the decisions we make on transportation, infrastructure and other considerations will support those production and community decisions.”   He is also quoted saying, “If I was specifying that it should be in one community I would be certainly in a position where it would be difficult for me to maintain the kind of credibility I need to continue our work with Cliff’s (Natural Resources) and with the other companies.” (Sources:  Chronicle-Journal, 24 Jun 11, clipping available here; Tbnewswatch.com, 24 Jun 11)
  • Mining camp workers employed by Cliffs (Natural Resources) and who walked off the job …. held a quiet demonstration outside (the ROF infrastructure conference mentioned above).  Representative Harry Baxter Sr. said they were there to show conference delegates, companies and the public that all is not well in the Ring of Fire. Baxter said the workers “have no benefits, no safety standards, no insurance.” He said more than two dozen camp workers walked off the job, protesting what Baxter said were unsafe conditions and a pay cut to $140 a day. Baxter said the pay is inadequate for those who live in the remote North where expenses are much higher than elsewhere. They are taking their concerns to a First Nations chiefs meeting at the Valhalla Inn on Friday, he said. Cliffs spokesmen have said the camp manager resigned amid the walkout and will be replaced. The other workers, they said, are welcome to return to their jobs. They also said the company would meet with the workers to discuss their concerns.”  Cliffs’ senior VP of ferralloys, Bill Boor, was also quoted saying he is contacting workers who left the work site to “discuss their problems directly with them.” Boor is also quoted saying “Their concern is that they’re going to now get taxed, and therefore their take-home pay will be reduced. We’re going to pay competitive wages, and in fact in this issue, we’re going to make sure people’s take-home pay does not go down. If that means we have to pay more because somebody who was a registered contractor, for example, is now subject to taxes, we’re going to take that on.” (Chronicle-Journal, 21 Jun 11, clipping available hereChronicle-Journal, 23 Jun 11)
  • KWG Resources Inc. advises that its subsidiary Canada Chrome Corporation has acquired by staking, two 16-unit mineral claims adjoining to the south of the Fancamp Exploration Ltd claims 3012257 and 3012258. The north-eastern corner of the eastern-most claim is within Koper Lake. As such, the new claim encompasses that portion of the western shore of Koper Lake that has been the logistics hub for activities in the area. The claims are outside of the areas of interest provided for in KWG’s agreements with Spider Resources Inc., and UC Resources Limited. The companies are also pleased to announce the appointment of Bruce Hodgman as a Vice-President of Canada Chrome Corporation.”  (Source:  KWG news release, 21 Jun 11)
  • “A Lakehead University professor has suggested a Ring of Fire endowment fund for future generations in northern Ontario. “Natural resources in a sense are like a gift – it’s like winning a lottery,” said Livio Di Matteo, a professor of economics at Lakehead University. “When you win a lottery, it’s great to spend some of it and have a good time. But at the same time if you want to prepare for tomorrow, it’s also a good idea to save a large portion of it and then only spend the income.” ….”  (Source:  Wawatay News, 24 Jun 11)
  • A Lakehead University economist suggests blimps.  “…. Development of the Ring of Fire will require transportation infrastructure and the Ring of Fire Conference held in Thunder Bay yesterday discussed proposals for transportation infrastructure. Of course, the proposals have a familiar ring – building new all-weather roads as well as building a new rail line. These are expensive pieces of transportation infrastructure and will provide access to the Ring of Fire and immediately adjacent areas. There are many First Nations living in Ontario’s Far North who rely on winter roads for bringing in supplies and these ice roads have become increasingly fragile with the shorter winters brought about by climate change. A railroad or road to the Ring of Fire would not necessarily meet the needs of all remote First Nations. One solution that would be cost-effective in meeting the needs of First Nations as well as providing a means to transport heavy equipment and supplies for mining companies lies in an old technology that is receiving some updates – Lighter Than Air Vehicles, also known as airships ….”  (Source:  Netnewsledger.com, 24 Jun 11)

Summary of more open source information and sources cited also available here (PDF).

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Ring of Fire News: June 1-20, 2011

The Ring of Fire News blog shares public information in accordance with the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act, and is not responsible for the accuracy of the original material.  Inclusion of material or sources here should not imply endorsement or otherwise by the Ring of Fire News blog.


  • Over two dozen First Nation and non-native workers employed by Cliffs Natural Resources have walked off their job-site in the Ring of Fire Mining Camp this weekend.  Protesting poor wages, deteriorating working conditions and inadequate health & safety infrastructure, workers at the camp are taking an indefinite stand against the Cleveland-based mining giant, Cliffs Natural Resources.  Workers describe an average week‘s work in the Cliffs Mining Camp as moving out bulk samples of Chromite, weighing up to 200 tons or 400,000 pounds. This labour intensive work is carried out by hand and manpower exclusively and involves manually loading rocks into 15 gallon pails and onto airplanes …. The company had no comment on the situation when contacted Monday morning.” (Sources:  netnewsledger.com, tbnewswatch.com, Postmedia News, 19-20 Jun 11)
  • “…. (Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael) Gravelle told reporters that a Ring of Fire infrastructure conference will be held in Thunder Bay next week to discuss how to build transportation links to area, which includes a massive chromite deposit that Cliffs Natural Resources, among other companies, plans to develop.  “Right now, we have two or three different visions on how we should be developing it,” he said. “We want to see if we can come to some agreement on how this should be done. It’s a priority on the part of the government. This is a tremendous opportunity for generations to come … for all northerners.”  Two of those visions are a road and a railway line ….” (Source:  Sudbury Star, 17 Jun 11)
  • The Municipality of Greenstone brings another big name into the fight to have a smelter built in the area.  “KWG Resources Inc. is pleased to announce that M. J. (Moe) Lavigne, KWG’s Vice-President of Exploration & Development has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Greenstone Economic Development Corporation. Mr. Lavigne is a resident of Thunder Bay and is also a Vice-President of KWG’s subsidiary Canada Chrome Corporation, which is examining the feasibility of constructing a railroad from Exton, Ontario to the mineral discoveries 340 kilometers north in the Ring of Fire area of the James Bay Lowlands ….” (Source:  company news release, 20 Jun 11)  This, following the hiring of former Ontario cabinet minister George Smitherman to help the community and Aroland First Nation lobby for a smelter.  (Source:  news release, 31 May 11).
  • The (City of Thunder Bay’s) Community Economic Development Commission announced Monday the addition of John Mason as project manager for mining exploration.  Mason said during an afternoon news conference that he’s excited about the growth potential and job creation opportunities that lie ahead.  “The activity is monumental right now, both exploration activity and mining activity,” Mason said. “Those are really the two related disciplines that will be my target audience. Those companies bring tremendous wealth and economic development in general to Northwestern Ontario.”  The Community Economic Development Commission’s CEO, Steve Demmings, said Mason’s mining expertise adds dramatic strength toe the CEDC as a whole.  “We’re in a position where everything in the ground, or on top of the ground, is in demand by India and China,” he said. “They are the developing countries, they have 33 per cent of the world’s population and things like chromium, silver, iron and ore are all very important to developing economies.” …. “  (Sources:  netnewsledger.com, tbnewswatch.com, 10-13 Jun 11) – General statement of job duties (City of Thunder Bay memo, 9 Sept 10)
  • KWG Resources Inc. has received the final report from Xstrata Process Support on its Big Daddy chromite metallurgical testing. The report confirms that the samples collected from four bore holes of the Big Daddy chromite deposit are amenable to refining at relatively modest energy consumption resulting in high yields of refined ferro-chrome product. The report observes:  “The results indicate a material that is highly reducible considering its high chromium content and which, during smelting, produces a high grade alloy at high chromium recovery, providing essential operating parameters are satisfied …. Under conditions such as those summarised above, the Big Daddy ore can be expected to return chromium recoveries of 92-93% into a high carbon ferrochrome alloy grading around 58-60% Cr, with 6-8% C, 1% Si and the balance iron ….”  (Source:  company news release, 10 Jun 11)
  • One reason for a Lakehead University law school, according to one member of a task force working on the idea, is the  Ring of Fire development:  “…. The Ring of Fire is a massive area approximately 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay that’s widely believed to contain mammoth deposits of chromium, nickel, copper, platinum, and palladium.  According to some estimates, the Ring of Fire contains enough chromite, a mineral not previously found in North America that’s used to make stainless steel, to supply world markets for the next 100 years. Some predict Thunder Bay will boom like Sudbury, Ont., did following the discovery of nickel.  The economic benefits of the Ring of Fire are tantalizing, but in order to access them, the parties involved will need to accommodate the constitutionally protected rights of Métis and First Nations peoples.  The Ring of Fire itself is located on the traditional territories of a number of First Nations, and the access route needed will cut through them. Both mining industry representatives and aboriginal stakeholders, not to mention provincial and federal government decision-makers, will need legal advice and guidance on their respective rights.  They include treaty and constitutional rights, land claims, and the law as it relates to mineral and resource development, all of which are precisely the topics Lakehead’s faculty of law will focus on. This guidance can’t come too soon.  The lack of development of the Ring of Fire so far has been attributed, at least in part, to blockades set up by First Nations ….” (Source:  lawtimesnews.com, 6 Jun 11)
  • Noront Resources closes partnership deal with China’s Baosteel Resources International.  “Noront Resources Ltd. is pleased to announce the closing of the previously announced strategic investment by Baosteel Resources International Co., Ltd., part of The Baosteel Group, one of China’s largest steel producers. Baosteel has acquired 20,234,967 Units of Noront at a price of $0.86 per Unit …. Net proceeds of the common share portion are approximately C$17.4 million and Baosteel’s ownership interest in Noront post transaction will be 9.9% …. Proceeds of the strategic investment will be used to fund the fiscal 2012 Budget of $C17.6M. Key objectives for the coming year include:  completion of a feasibility study on the Eagle’s Nest nickel sulphide deposit in Q1, 2012; expansion of the Blackbird chromite resource in Q1, 2012; exploration for additional nickel sulphide mineralization including Eagle 2; completion of a pre-feasibility study on the Blackbird chromite deposit including an initial analysis of ferrochrome production; on-going consultation with local First Nations communities and permitting of the project with the relevant federal, provincial and regional government agencies ….”  (Source:  company news release, 2 Jun 11)

Summary of more open source information and sources cited also available here (PDF).

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Someplace else to watch

While I get my own house in order re:  sharing news about the Ring of Fire, I thought I’d point you to a resource already doing so.

Ring of Fire Monitor is a pretty useful blog to keep track of regarding developments in the area.

It feels like the blog-meisters there have way more business savvy than I do.  I’m planning to take a more “unspecialist wonk’s view of events” approach to my posting once I get there.

Meanwhile, enjoy the quality (and timely) info coming out of the Ring of Fire Monitor – good show, folks!

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