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Ring of Fire News – 25 Oct 11

  • RECAP – Federal environmental assessment process under way for Cliffs Natural Resources project “The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) is starting a comprehensive study type of environmental assessment for the proposed Cliffs Chromite Project located in northern Ontario. The Agency invites the public to comment on the project and the conduct of the comprehensive study.  The Agency has prepared the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Guidelines that identify potential environmental effects to be addressed and information that needs to be included in the proponent’s EIS. Public comments on the draft EIS Guidelines are invited and will be reviewed and considered before the document is finalized and issued to the proponent.  The draft EIS Guidelines and more information on this project are available on the Agency’s website at http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca (Registry reference number 11-03-63927). The document is available in paper copy by request as well.  All comments received by November 16, 2011 will be considered.  The Agency is also making available $40,000 under its Participant Funding Program to assist groups and individuals to participate in the federal environmental assessment of this project. Funding applications received by November 16, 2011 will be considered.  This is the first of several public comment periods that will occur during the environmental assessment of the project ….”    CEAA news releaseCEAA project pageCEAA list of project documentsSudbury Star (1) – Sudbury Star (2) – Northern Ontario Business
  • RECAP – Matawa Chiefs:  No joint environmental assessment = no Ring of Fire development.  “Matawa Chiefs withdrew their support for development in the Ring of Fire (ROF) (21 Oct 11).  The Chiefs and the 8,000 people they represent are calling on Premier McGuinty and Prime Minister Harper to intervene in the Environmental Assessment (EA) process.  “We will be forced to resort to alternative measures if Canada and Ontario continue to ignore the First Nations that are being impacted by Ring of Fire developments,” said Chief Roger Wesley of Constance Lake First Nation.  Matawa Chiefs are outraged that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is proceeding with a Comprehensive Study EA. The Chiefs and their people have been calling for a Joint Review Panel EA for five months but the government is still not listening. Both the provincial and the federal governments are failing in their constitutional duty to consult and accommodate First Nations. According to the Chiefs, the government is telling them what they plan to do, but it is not consulting or accommodating them about how they want to be involved. The Chiefs maintain that the manner in which the government is proceeding with development in Northern Ontario is going to slowly destroy their traditional way of life, extinguish their treaty rights and destroy their homelands and their children’s future ….”  Matawa news release (PDF) – alternate news release download site (PDF) – Sudbury StarThunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (PDF) – Northern Ontario Businesstbnewswatch.comWawatay News
  • Cliffs on Matawa Chiefs’ announcement:  disappointed, but willing to keep working with First Nations.   “Cliffs Natural Resources says it’s committed to “working hand-in-hand” with nine remote First Nations that could benefit from the company’s proposed chromite mine in the Ring of Fire.  But the company said it’s disappointed over last week’s all-or-nothing demand by Matawa First Nations for a higher level environmental review into the mine proposal.  “It’s unfortunate that the focus is over the panel (review) versus comprehensive approaches,” Cliffs said in a statement.  “The comprehensive review process provides a clear and thorough path, as well as the flexibility to address the specific concerns of impacted communities,” the statement said ….”  Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal
  • Ontario Ring of Fire Co-ordinator on Matawa Chiefs’ announcement:  we’re committed to keeping the dialogue going.  “…. On (20 Oct 11), the Matawa Chiefs met with Christine Kaszycki, an assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and the ministry’s Ring of Fire co-ordinator.  Kaszycki said she met with the Matawa chiefs (20 Oct 11), but (the 22 Oct 11) scheduled meeting did not go ahead.  “The purpose … was to engage in a more comprehensive discussion concerning the Environmental Assessment process — share some information and determining what the First Nation concerns are. We did have a discussion on that.  “The consultation has opened the issue … They want to be a more integral part of the process going forward and it’s not just with respect to the environmental assessment, but all areas.”  Kaszycki said there will be more meetings with the chiefs, but none are scheduled at this time.  “We are committed to having ongoing dialogue with the (First Nation) communities,” she said. “I think there is a lot of room to move forward in a very satisfactory way. We are committed to keeping the dialogue going.”  ….”  Sudbury Star
  • Environmental groups are also underwhelmed about no joint assessment of Cliffs project.   “…. The Matawa and Mushkegowuk First Nations representing 13 individual communities as well as MiningWatch Canada, Ecojustice, Wildlands League, and the Wildlife Conservation Society have all recommended that the project be evaluated through a joint federal-provincial review panel. Friday’s announcement indicated that this will not be the case and that the project will be reviewed through the less rigorous – and less participatory – comprehensive study process.  Cliffs’ project is the most advanced of several projects being developed in the much-touted “Ring of Fire” ….”
    If approved, Cliffs’ project would open the entire region and establish the infrastructure for future developments. Located on the border between the Hudson Bay Lowlands and the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield, the “Ring of Fire” is ecologically sensitive and a valued part of the traditional territories of the Matawa and Mushkegowuk First Nations who have travelled, hunted, and fished throughout the area for millennia. The First Nations expect the federal and provincial governments to honour their obligations to share both the decision making process and any benefits that may come from development in the area.  The decision to undertake a so-called “comprehensive study” instead of a review panel fell to Environment Minister Peter Kent. The decision threatens already-strained relationships with affected First Nations. Comments Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch, “It is infuriating that our government is not meeting its obligations under the constitution, under our Treaties, and under international norms like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Hart also doubts that the decision will actually speed up development ….” 
    Mining Watch Canada news releaseCBC Thunder Bay
  • Cabinet Shuffle (1)  New Ministers of Northern Development and Mines (Rick Bartolucci of Sudbury) and Minister of Natural Resources (Michael Gravelle of Thunder Bay).   Government of Ontario news releaseChronicle-JournalNorthern Ontario Business
  • Cabinet Shuffle (2)  Editorial:  will new Northern Development Minister = preference for Sudbury smelter site?   “…. Sudbury’s Rick Bartolucci, one less thing to look after in Gravelle’s place. It also suggests Premier Dalton McGuinty believes that mining needs undivided attention as exploration increases across the Far North. Bartolucci is also cabinet chair, adding to his stature …. Bartolucci now gets to make his mark directly on a resurgent mining sector. This is a challenge, to say the least. Relations between the mining industry and First Nations near exploration sites are often troubled over consultation and territorial claims on Crown land …. Bartolucci’s appointment also suggests that Cliffs Natural Resources, the biggest player in the huge Ring of Fire minerals deposit, may choose Sudbury for its ferrochrome processing facility. Bartolucci’s hometown is already Cliffs’ “test case” location. With considerable mining infrastructure already in place, the appointment of its MPP as Mines Minister signals that Sudbury may have a lock on the processor.  We still think that Thunder Bay’s status as a seaway port gives it a shipping advantage as Cliffs considers its global marketing strategy for the key ingredient in stainless steel.  Gravelle caught grief for insisting he couldn’t advocate for his riding in the Cliffs matter because he had to respect the entire region in his job as Northern Development Minister. Does Bartolucci think the same way? If so, Thunder Bay and Greenstone might still have a chance at the processor. If Bartolucci goes to bat for Sudbury, the minister will hold all the cards.”  Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal
  • Cabinet Shuffle (3)  If Bartolucci is quoted correctly, he may continue pushing for Sudbury as the smelter site.  “…. (Bartolucci) said he expects MPPs in northwestern ridings “to be advocating and helping their communities to try to secure the processing plant up there. I think that’s fair game.”  He said “the way the (Sudbury) mayor and the community have engaged me in this process, I can still act as the MPP, and will.”  The priority will be to ensure that Cliffs Resources builds its processing plant “right here, in Northern Ontario.” ….”  Sudbury Star
  • Meanwhile, Sudbury officials still waiting to hear from road trip to Cleveland to twist arms to get chromite smelter built near Capreol.  “Greater Sudbury officials are still awaiting word on whether an American company will build a smelter in the area to process chromite mined in the Ring of Fire.  However, they’ve already identified a site for the facility.  It’s the site of the old Moose Mountain iron mine, north of Capreol.  The mine shut down in the 1970s.  Ward 7 city councillor Dave Kilgour said that history makes it a good spot for the smelter.  “It’s a brownfield already,” he noted.  “You’re not going into fresh green virgin forest and trying to do something. It’s already been used as a mine site for a considerable length of time, so I think some of the permits… might be easier to get.”  Kilgour said he thinks hydro rates will be the key factor in whether the smelter is built in Sudbury.  The company with all the answers, Cliffs Natural Resources, has not said when it will make a decision ….”  CBC Sudbury
  • Thunder Bay also hitting the road to lobby for chromite smelter.  “Mayor Keith Hobbs remains optimistic he can help convince Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. to locate a ferrochrome processing plant in Thunder Bay.  Hobbs will venture next month to company headquarters in Cleveland, along with a Northwestern Ontario contingent, in a last-ditch effort to convince Cliffs officials to choose Thunder Bay over Sudbury.  A working group readying for the delegation is in place, and includes officials from the city, Community Economic Development Corporation, the port authority, Fort William First Nation and Thunder Bay Hydro.  Hobbs said the traveling group will be pared down before the November departure, but will be fully prepared to defend Thunder Bay’s claim to the plant, needed to process the estimated $30-billion Ring of Fire chromite deposit ….”  tbnewswatch.com
  • Timmins wants the smelter, too.  “…. Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren said he has also been meeting with officials from Cliffs Natural Resources, the company looking at building a smelting facility for its proposed northwestern Ontario mine.  “Do we think we’re part of the running? Absolutely,” said Laughren. “Would I be as confident as Sudbury, probably not. But again, I think there’s many places in northern Ontario that this could happen in.”  Laughren said what’s most important is that the smelter is built somewhere in northern Ontario.  He said northern leaders should not fight with each other, but rather lobby the province to offer lower hydro rates than Quebec and Manitoba.”  CBC Sudbury
  • Timmins Mayor also renews call for lower electricity rates.  “…. Laughren said he is hopeful that even with a Liberal government in Queen’s Park, the minority situation may be able to convince the Liberals to bring in an electrical energy rate that would allow resource-based businesses to thrive …. Laughren said the city and the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) have been working together for the last 18 months to do whatever it takes to make Timmins look attractive for the construction of a ferrochrome smelter that could process chromite from the Ring of Fire properties located near Webequie, Ontario …. Laughren said Timmins has been lobbying hard to become to site of such a refinery.  “The ferrochrome processing facility would create approximately 500 construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs,” said Laughren.  The mayor said the Ring of Fire is important not only for Northern Ontario, but for the whole province.  “If we do not get energy costs down to where we can compete with Quebec and Manitoba, this will be an opportunity gone for us,” said Laughren. “The actual ferrochrome facility will not be in Ontario.” ….”  Timmins Times
  • Ring of Fire expected to be discussed at national Aboriginal business conference in Ottawa.   “…. On Oct. 24-25, Ottawa will host the Aboriginal Entrepreneurs Conference and Tradeshow. Co-Chaired by federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan and yours truly, this unique event will bring together business leaders to discuss the incredible opportunities that exist for Aboriginal entrepreneurs from coast to coast. They will be looking at some of the mega-projects that will drive Canada’s economy for years to come — Plan Nord in Quebec, the Ring of Fire in Ontario and potash mining in Saskatchewan. The conference will also offer insight and expertise on the necessary tools for Aboriginal entrepreneurs to be successful. Renowned leaders such as Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar Mobile, Dr. Leslie Roberts of the GoForth Institute and Keith Martell, chairman and chief executive of First Nations Bank will address timely issues in business such as social media, innovation and competitiveness ….”  Financial Post
  • “Rencore Resources Ltd. announces the completion of the first diamond drilling program on its wholly owned mining claims in the James Bay Lowlands of Northeastern Ontario (Ring of Fire Area) within the Webequie First Nation Traditional Lands.  The Rencore mining claims, subject of this initial drill program, are located between 30 and 60 km northwest of the Webequie First Nation community along the postulated western extension of the main Ring of Fire structure. This structure hosts a number of Chromite Deposits as well as Nickel-Copper-PGE MMS and Copper-Zinc-Lead VMS deposits presently undergoing economic mining studies by their owners …. The second half of the project drilling will commence upon the satisfactory execution of an Exploration Agreement with the Kasabonika Lake First Nation (“KLFN”). Negotiations are at an advanced stage and a positive relationship with the KLFN has been established ….”  Rencore news release

Summary of more open source information and sources cited over the past six months (1 Sept – 24 Oct 11) also downloadable here (38 page PDF).
All information shared here in accordance with the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act.
Ring of Fire News is not responsible for accuracy of original material, and inclusion of material doesn’t mean endorsement.

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