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Ring of Fire News – 6 Feb 12

  • A parliamentary committee will study the massive chromite mining project in Northern Ontario, thanks to a New Democrat motion from Natural Resources critic and Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle. “We want to hear witnesses from First Nations communities, from Cliffs (Natural) Resources, the communities in the region, mining and environmental organizations,” Gravelle said in a release. The hearings are tentatively scheduled for the natural resources committee Feb. 14 and 16. Cliffs Natural Resources, a Cleveland-based company wants to open an open pit chromite mine in northwestern Ontario by 2015. It would also build a plant to process the chromite and has identified a spot near Capreol as a possible location. The plant would create as many as 500 jobs. Gravelle general First Nations support for the project, contingent on respect for treaty rights and sharing fairly in the project’s economic development, is one of the issues that need to be study (sic). The Ring of Fire is a massive 5,120-square kilometre area of pristine wildnerness sitting on an ore deposit some say may produce one of Canada’s largest mining operations ever. “The economic opportunities with Ring of Fire are apparent for the north, including a refinery smelter that needs to be in the north,” Gravelle said. “We have to be sure to do this project right and that means proper consultations and a role for First Nations and addressing the environmental concerns.” Gravelle said it is important that resources extracted in the north be refined in the province and not abroad. However, Cliffs has already said it wants to produce and ship chromite concentrate overseas.”  Source  Still nothing on the calendar of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources yet.
  • HRSDC money for training Aboriginal mine workers.  “Funding from the federal government will go a long way to ensure Aboriginal youth have the right skills needed for the mining industry, says the executive director of Oshki-Pimache-O-Win. Kellie Leitch, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, announced funding of more than $700,000 for the Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute on Saturday. The funding will go toward the organization’s Learning 2 Mine project, which will provide Aboriginal youth with training and experience they need to work in the mining industry. Rosie Mosquito, executive director of Oshki-Pimache-O-Win, said with the funding from the government they will be able to create a website for students as well as create three community-based courses that will be 12 weeks long …. “The world is focused on our piece of territory in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation,” Mosquito said. “There’s huge potential (in the Ring of Fire). We certainly like to help our young people to be able to seize those opportunities and those employment opportunities that are well paying not just manual labour. With this project, they will learn essential mining skills and basic life skills.” Leitch said the government wanted to focus on Aboriginal skills development and create a strong workforce. “These are young people interested in getting into the mining industry,” Leitch said. “The skills and development fund has existed with the government for some time and this program here was developed and put forth to our department and it was an excellent program with multiple phases. This was an opportunity for us to provide skills and opportunity to young Aboriginals in Northern Ontario” …. ”  Source – more in news release here
  • Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says he’s still working to streamline approvals (especially for the Ring of Fire).  “Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver …. continued his crusade to cut down on environmental approval timelines for major projects, to encourage the potential C$92-billion in mining investment the government sees over the next ten years. Oliver made specific mention of the chromite and nickel projects under way in Ontario’s Ring of Fire district, saying he hoped Cliffs Natural Resources’ Black Thor deposit and Noront Resources’ Eagle’s Nest project make their way through the regulatory processes without hitches ….  “It is my hope that these projects will pass through our federal and provincial regulatory systems and processes that are needed, and will do so smoothly,” he said. Oliver commented that the Ring of Fire, located in Northern Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands, was attracting significant investment, and could put Canada on the map for chromite production, currently dominated by South Africa, Kazakhstan and India. “It could also replenish Canada’s dwindling reserves of nickel and copper,” he said ….  “  Source
  • Ontario’s Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci:  government cuts coming, but still committed to creating Ring of Fire jobs.  “…. Despite the looming cuts, Bartolucci, who is also the minister of Northern Development and Mines, stressed that job creation in Northern Ontario is very important. “Our government and I … remain staunchly committed to creating jobs across the north through strategic investments in infrastructure, transportation and mineral development. Within that context, we will continue to look at ways in which to do things better and more efficiently. “Growth plans for Northern Ontario,” he (including) the Northern Highways Program, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, the Far North Act and mineral development will continue to be essential instruments in promoting northern economic development.” ”  Source
  • Matawa First Nations say it is going ahead with its bid to have a proposal for the first mine in the Ring of Fire subject to public hearings. “Yes, Matawa is still pursuing a judicial review regarding (a) request for a joint review panel environmental assessment,” Matawa spokesperson Jason Rasevych said …. in an e-mail. In November, Matawa said it would go to federal court to force the federal government to hold public hearings into a Cliffs Natural Resources project, which could be in production by 2015 …. Rasevych said Matawa is still waiting for a court date ….”  Source (PDF)
  • The Chief of Marten Falls First Nation says the recently released guidelines for an environmental assessment in the Ring of Fire aren’t enough. The government document outlines the rules Cliffs Natural Resources will follow to demonstrate the impact of its planned chromite mine north of Geraldton. It also says the federal government will delegate its duty to consult with First Nations on the mining project to Cliffs. Eli Moonias said he understands mining will go ahead, but wants it done right. “I ride an aluminum canoe and my motor is a Mercury, it’s made out of metal, and my tea pot in the morning is aluminum, so is my cup, so I’m living with the mining process,” Moonias said. “So I can’t say ‘alright let’s stop everything, stop the mine, don’t mine anymore.'” “What I can say is, let’s do it this way, let’s do this long process, let’s make sure we’re making the right decision.” Marten Falls is part of a court action to force a more thorough environmental review. It is one of the communities located closest to the development. Moonias said it’s the Crown’s duty to consult with the First Nation and to make sure the environment is protected. “That’s the government’s job to provide that process which provides that assurance,” he said.”  Source

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1 Jan-4 Feb 12 (PDF) here. All information shared here in accordance with the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act. We’re not responsible for the accuracy of the source material, and inclusion of material doesn’t mean endorsement.

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