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Ring of Fire News – 3 Oct 11

  • Is the City of Thunder Bay considering offering land to a company willing to set up a chromite smelter here?  On August 15, the City’s Inter-Governmental Liaison Committee (consisting of the Mayor, some city councillors and staff) held one of its regular meetings to discuss issues associated with dealing with other levels of government.  Part of the meeting was closed to the public to discuss “a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board.” (the Municipal Act says municipal councils and committees, as well as local boards, have to explain why meetings are closed to the public when convening them).  What was the only item of business discussed during the closed part of the meeting?  An update from the City Manager on “Ferrochrome Facility Update”.  CBC Radio Thunder Bay said last week that the City of Thunder Bay continues to work on its “business case” for having a smelter built here, and will present it to the company when the plan is complete.  Sourcemore (PDF)
  • Meanwhile, Sudbury, Cliffs mum after their meeting in Cleveland.  “The City of Greater Sudbury has made its initial case to Cliffs Natural Resources to land a proposed ferrochrome production facility, but neither side will get into specifics about how things went at a meeting at the mining company’s head offices in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday. “The meeting was productive and it was a great opportunity to meet with the Cliffs team,” Mayor Marianne Matichuk said in a release Tuesday. The release went on to say the “very preliminary meeting” was an information exchange and that the mayor and her staff team will continue to work with Cliffs as they continue their deliberations …. Pat Persico, Cliffs Natural Resources’ senior manager of media relations and marketing, said in a statement Tuesday that the company will not comment on the ferrochrome production facility issue until a decision on a location is made. “Cliffs understands that there are many interested stakeholders following this project,” she said in an email. “At this time, we do not have updated information to share publicly about Cliffs Chromite Project located in the Ring of Fire nor any business meetings with various cities …. “When we arrive at a decision for the (ferrochrome production facility) site, we will make a public announcement.” ….”  Source
  • Aboriginal media outlet Wawatay News collects and shares party positions on the Ring of Fire and the Far North Act.  My only observation:  funny how some parties had a candidate speaking, and others just a party spokesperson.  Source alternative download (PDF)
  • ANOTHER call for a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment of proposed Ring of Fire projects.  “Matawa Chiefs are deeply concerned about the type of Environmental Assessment (EA) process that will be used to determine the impacts of two resource development projects in their traditional territories. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is expected to announce the formal start of the EA process for the Cliffs Chromite Project in early October and for the Noront Eagle’s Nest Project in early November. Concerns over the EA have prompted the Matawa First Nations Chiefs to demand that a “Joint Review Panel Environmental Assessment” process be adopted in order to safeguard the sustainability and integrity of their lands ….”  Source (PDF) – Matawa’s Ring of Fire Environmental Assessment Process Facebook page
  • Previous calls, mentions of a call for a joint environmental assessment of Ring of Fire projects:  9 Aug 11 – Wawatay News story; 11 Jul 11 – blog entry by KI spokesperson, environmental organization rep; 31 May 11 – Matawa  First Nations Chiefs resolution and letter to Canada’s, Ontario’s environment ministers (PDF); 3 May 11 – Environmental group letter to Canada’s Environment Minister (PDF)
  • Precedent for joint panel?  9 Aug 11:  “Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent and Ontario’s Minister of the Environment John Wilkinson announced today the establishment of a three-member joint review panel for the environmental assessment of the proposed Marathon Platinum Group Metals and Copper Mine Project in Ontario ….” (more info here)
  • Matawa, James Bay Chiefs call for honouring the spoken (not just the written) word of the Treaties. “There are changes coming, on an increasingly frequent level as many First Nations across Northern Ontario are working closer together. There are agreements on sharing information, and on mining and exploration rights being signed. Now, First Nations are uniting to implement the Oral Treaty. Seven Matawa First Nations and Seven Mushkegowuk First Nations have signed a declaration to work together to achieve the implementation of the Oral Treaty. The Chiefs Declaration states that we are “…committed to exercising our inherent and treaty rights, without limitations imposed by others. We will consider the use of any options to ensure that the development of our homelands occurs only with the free, informed and prior consent of our First Nations.” ….”  Source
  • Remember the Keewatin court decision which how could have a huge impact on Ontario’s power to license forestry and/or mining in Treaty areas?  Canada and Ontario are appealing the decision.  Source
  • Matawa hiring a charitable organization fundraiser for “education, social, health and community living” work in member First Nations.  “Established in 2011, The Gathering of Rivers for Community Care (GORFCC) is a Registered Charity dedicated to assisting the Matawa First Nations youth and families to achieve their goals in the areas of education, health and social and community living. GORFCC requires a Development Coordinator who will responsible for the day-to-day operations as well as the launch of the foundation, fundraising initiatives, stewardship, donor relations, and data collection. The Development Coordinator Internship will be reporting to the Chief Executive Officer of Matawa and GORFCC Board of Directors …. Application deadline is Friday October 7, 2011 by 4:30 P.M. ….”  Job posting (PDF) – Alternate download site (PDF)
  • New partnership between one of the Ring of Fire First Nations and B.C.-based communications, logistics company. “Webequie First Nations and INDI Indigenous Development Inc. (INDI) (more on company here) have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which will see the provision of communications, safety and security services to communities and commercial clients alike in the Ring of Fire. Chief Cornelious Wabasse says “I am excited about this MOU with INDI. Their core competencies of communications, safety, and security are three important dimensions for our community and for the future developments in the Ring of Fire. One of the exciting elements is that our own members can be trained in these areas for future employment and be part of the eventual full scale operations. We look forward to contractual opportunities with the main operators in the Ring of Fire.” ….”  Source
  • One commentator’s take on Ring of Fire development:  “…. It makes no sense to go to war and start huge conflicts merely for the almighty dollar in developing these pristine traditional lands. Nobody would really win in this scenario. However, make no mistake about it no matter what government is in place or how much money or power industry has, if fair deals are not made with the First Nations of the “Ring Of Fire” nothing will ever be developed in this area. There will be a conflict that we will all have to endure for decades and we will waste a lot of energy, time and good will in a pointless fight ….”  Source
  • Big Trout Lake (aka Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, or KI) is back in the news re:  trying to block mining exploration in their traditional territory.  “The chief of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation is calling on (Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty) to stop a gold exploration company from working on a KI ancestral burial site. “Our ancestors deserve a place where they can rest undisturbed,” Chief Donny Morris said Wednesday. “People everywhere understand that cemeteries are sacred places. But in Sherman Lake, they want to put a gold mine on one.” The band claims that mining exploration company God’s Lake Resources has staked new claims despite KI’s well-publicized moratorium, and that the company has worked the site in spite of being informed that multiple grave sites are within the claim area. Government officials have told the band that they are powerless to stop God’s Lake from working their claims in spite of bands indigenous title, and spiritual connection to the area …. “  Source more more more (First Nation’s news releases, background information)
  • The company’s side on the latest Big Trout Lake/KI situation:  “A junior exploration company that Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation is trying to kick off its traditional territory says its attempts to consult with the band have been met with silence.  God’s Lake Resources CEO Ed Ludwig said Thursday that the company has tried to meet with the band, without success, about the existence of sacred burial sites near where the company is exploring for gold in the Sherman Lake area. “We were told about (the potential of grave sites in the area) and have asked the chief and elders to locate them,” said Ludwig, adding that the province has made the same request. “We’ve asked that they please come and show us . . . we want to show the proper respect. “I want to respect that avenue and develop a boundary, but when questioned about where there might be grave sites, the band has provided no response,” he said. Ludwig added that company employees have so far found “no evidence of any grave sites up there” ….”  Source more (PDF, Company’s latest Management’s Discussion and Analysis document, 29 Aug 11)
  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s behind KI:  “Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy supports Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation in the community’s call for the Premier of Ontario to step in to halt mining activity within their traditional territory. “Ontario must take action to preserve its relationship with the First Nations in Ontario’s far north,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. “Ontario must respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, supported by Canada, which states that free, prior, and informed consent is required from First Nations …. “ Source (NAN news release)
  • Some editorial support for KI:  Three years later and it looks like it’s business as usual in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation. For the people who live there, it’s not a good thing. Earlier this week band leaders publicly demanded the province – in the midst of an election campaign – force mining companies to stop exploration work on their traditional territory. The community has set aside about 13,000 square kilometres of traditional land and said no exploration will be allowed until they’ve finished identifying where sacred burial sites are located. All they’ve asked for at this point is time …. While no one wants to halt development of Ontario’s north, First Nations do have the right to be consulted and negotiate before companies are allowed to stake their land. It’s the right thing to do.”  Source
  • Some editorial questions for KI:  “Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation has a reputation for making demands. But what does it want? …. If KI wants this thing resolved, it has to participate. It cannot expect God’s Lake to put its plans on hold indefinitely …. “We have full intentions of exploring this property,” Ludwig said, and the province has said it has no reason to order God’s Lake to stop, though that is another thing that KI is demanding.  “Our door is always open,” said (company CEO Ed)Ludwig, “and we would welcome (KI) as a partner, providing jobs for community members — without all the political rhetoric.” What is KI waiting for? Get the elders up there and show the exploration personnel what land is off-limits.  What more does it want? The mining industry, the provincial government and the people of Northern Ontario want to know.” Source
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