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 – 5 Mar 12

  • The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency shares some money for Aboriginal and other groups wanting input into the Noront project EA process, and Aboriginal and other groups wanting input into the Cliffs project EA process.
  • Federal Liberal calls for a wider-ranging environmental assessment process  “The federal Liberal critic for Aboriginal Affairs is cautioning that communities in northern Ontario could see environmental and health effects like those seen in Alberta’s oilsands region if regional planning and environmental assessments for the Ring of Fire are not done properly. Dr. Carolyn Bennett was in Thunder Bay on Feb. 20 to meet with Matawa First Nations. Following those meetings, Bennett said the current approach of doing individual environmental assessments for each Ring of Fire project is flawed. “It could be done in a much more coherent way,” Bennett said. “We should not be making the mistake of the oilsands, where everything is done in a very piecemeal way.” …. Bennett, who took on the role of Aboriginal Affairs critic after the 2011 election, also highlighted what she called the federal government’s disjointed approach to its responsibility in the Ring of Fire. She said that Environment Canada and Health Canada are not included on the federal Ring of Fire coordinating committee, something that needs to be remedied for the government to adequately plan a regional approach to development. Bennett noted that establishing effective monitoring regimes will also be crucial for northern Ontario to avoid some of the pitfalls that Alberta’s oilsands have seen. “Monitoring cannot be an afterthought,” she said. “You put those types of things in up front, and the communities have to be involved in that.” …. ”  Source
  • Thunder Bay, Fort William First Nation working together to become Ring o’ Fire hub  “…. As the result (of a City of Thunder Bay-First Nation delegation taking part in the Ontario Good Roads Association/Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto), the city and Fort William First Nation are preparing a community readiness strategy to ensure they’re prepared to take advantage of the opportunities provided by developments in the Ring of Fire …. “Most of the meeting focused on …. the Ring of Fire,” Coun. Joe Virdiramo, chairman of the city’s intergovernmental liaison committee said Thursday ,,,, The community readiness strategy will include Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Lakehead University, Confederation College and the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce among other organizations, Virdiramo said. The readiness strategy will cover topics like training, energy, housing and transportation….”  Source – more on conference delegation here, here, here and here
  • Some municipal and First Nation leaders are looking for more money to create another body to help co-ordinate things, including the Ring o’ Fire development  “Proponents of a regional democratic and economic development zone for Northwestern Ontario met with regional municipal leaders on Wednesday to ask whether their plans are on the right track. Iain Angus, chairman of the Joint Task Force, presented 20 models and variances of what would become the Regional Economic Development Area (REDA), incorporating municipal, First Nations and economic development voices with public and private sector interests. The proposed pilot project aspires to increase local decision making with collaborative governance including First Nations and municipalities, and aims to authorize decision makers to implement and influence decisions regarding economic policy and strategy. The task force is seeking $910,000 to implement whatever model is selected in its first year, to drop to $750,000 in year four and rebound to $850,000 when feedback will be sought for long-term planning in its fifth year …. Considering the Ring of Fire chronium deposit as an example, he described companies expressing frustration over indecision on north-south or east-west corridors for transportation, communications and energy development. Although resources are a provincial portfolio, he pointed out, there’s both greater interest and expertise on the ground. “Right now, the province is nowhere to be found in terms of what their intentions are,” he said. “A body like the (Regional Economic Development Area) would have been in a position to do the research, do the consultation and come up with a plan that may turn out to benefit everybody. At least the planning would be done by us, not for us.” ….”  Source more
  • KWG consolidates claim on (potential) railway line (and source of gravel) land  “KWG Resources Inc. says it has acquired 49 claims south of McFaulds Lake in Ontario’s Ring of Fire mineral zone that “complete an important section of the railway corridor staked by KWG subsidiary Canada Chrome Corporation.” The acquired claims also contain a potential source of aggregate material …. “  A reminder:  “…. The company has teamed with the Greenstone Economic Development Corporation in filing an application with the federal government’s P3 Canada infrastructure fund to pay for the quarter of the estimated $1.98 billion railway project. Late last year, it named former Attawapiskat First Nation chief Theresa Okimaw-Hall as Canada Chrome’s executive director, with a mandate to pursue opportunities for the First Nations affected by the Ring of Fire developments and to formulate mechanisms for their participation in the equity of Canada Chrome…. “  Sourcemore
  • Noront holds an environmental open house in Thunder Bay (1)  “Optimism took center stage at a public meeting Thursday night for one of the major players in the Ring of Fire. Noront Resources provided details on its Eagle’s Nest project to a packed house. Company officials said they believe their plans could create as many as 2,000 direct and indirect jobs for this region. Many of the questions from the floor centred around the infrastructure needs of the company, employment and Noront’s relationship with Cliff’s Natural Resources. Environmental concerns were also raised by some, but many showed excitement about the possible economic boost to the region. Noront recently initiated an Environmental Assessment to develop and operate the Eagle’s Nest mine, using a new transportation route from Pickle Lake. A feasibility study on the deposit, which contains copper, nickel and chromite, is also underway. The company would like to begin construction next year.”  Source
  • Noront holds an environmental open house in Thunder Bay (2)  “Many people at a mining information session Thursday night wanted to know how local communities will benefit from the roads planned for the Ring of Fire. More than 150 people came out to a Noront Resources open house in Thunder Bay. They had questions about jobs and the environmental impact of the Eagle’s Nest project, but many also wanted to know more about the proposed new road to get to the mine.  Local Noront investor Don Paglaro said the road shouldn’t be just the company’s responsibility. “I think the government should not only put in some funding, but should maybe decide on a good route … one that benefits northwestern Ontario, which is Thunder Bay,” he said. Paglaro said he is excited about the Eagle’s Nest project, but he said he wants to make sure the road built to reach the mine also benefits isolated First Nations. “Not necessarily the closest or the cheapest way in, but one that is gonna perhaps connect to all the reserves and communities up there,” Paglaro said. Currently, Noront plans an east-west route between Pickle Lake and Webequie. Cliffs Natural Resources is planning a road extension north of Nakina for its Black Thor mining property. Yan Yan, who works for a First Nations organization, wondered if the two mining companies could join forces when it comes to building roads. “If we have the regional plan … I think that is more cost-effective,” she said. A regional infrastructure plan is exactly what Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer wants to see. The NDP MP said it’s up to government — not individual companies — to plan transportation. “In the past we have always allowed the forest companies to decide where our road network was gonna go,” he said. Hyer added the provincial government needs to step in and help co-ordinate Noront and Cliffs’ road proposals for the Ring of Fire.”  Source
  • More calls from Cliffs for government money for the long road needed to their proposed project  “…. “We’re keeping the (projected) costs (of the road) separate for now, because we don’t know yet how much is going to be on our bill,” Cliffs executive vice president Bill Boor said Wednesday from Cleveland, where Cliffs’ head office is located. Boor emphasized the road is a key to getting the big chromite project going, because it will be needed to bring in equipment and supplies to build the mine 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. Cliffs has argued the province should help pay for the road, estimated to cost about $600 million, since it will be “a catalyst for future development “ in Ontario’s Far North, as Boor put it. On Tuesday, Premier Dalton McGuinty told a conference of Ontario municipal politicians that the province’s financial woes could put road and bridge projects on hold. Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association president Ron Nelson said applying that to the North would be a mistake with potential projects like the Ring of Fire at hand ….”  Source
  • Thunder Bay, Fort William First Nation also calling for government road, infrastructure spending for the Ring o’ Fire (Source)
  • Ontario:  He Says, She Says on Road Funding  Speaking of roads, on the one hand, the Premier tells municipal leaders he “chose not to move forward this year with a new permanent fund for roads and bridges with the federal government”. On the other hand, Ontario’s Ministry of Transport & Infrastructure says  “our government won’t move ahead this year with the creation of a new fund for municipal roads and bridges. So not never, but not this year,” adding “the infrastructure spending of $35 billion over three y ears announced in the 2011 budget doesn’t change”.  We’ll just have to see….
  • Ontario: He Says, She Says on Duty to Consult (and Why It’s Hard to Pin Down First Nation “Traditional Terriories”)  “Last year, the exploration industry spent close to a billion dollars looking for minerals in Ontario. But some prospectors say the rules are not clear when it comes to staking claims — particularly on First Nation traditional territory. That’s resulting in conflict and court cases. Mining companies or prospectors are granted exploration claims through the province. But, traditional land surrounding First Nation territory is not marked on the province’s mining map — because the province can’t actually pin it down. Clive Stephenson, a provincial mining recorder with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, said traditional territory is a relative term. “I mean, the First Nations obviously have a good idea of what their traditional land is,” he said. “But for various reasons, they’re uncomfortable with sharing it.” Currently, when a claim is staked on traditional territory, both the miner and prospector are informed by the province that they might be operating on traditional lands. Even though the province issues the permits, it’s up to the mining company to contact each of the First Nations that might be affected for further consultation. That happens only after the company has already paid the province to stake the claim …. The province’s mining act is now being updated to address such relations between the exploration industry and First Nations. Gary Clark, the executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association, said changes in the mining act should address the issues — and make the government more involved in the deals. “The government will be able to monitor to make sure consultation is going in the direction that they want it in,” Clark said. “It’s ultimately their responsibility to do consultation and accommodation.” But Stephenson said the relationship between mining companies and First Nations is a businesses arrangement, so it’s best to leave consultation to them. He noted the province does have staff in place to assist them, if needed. “The whole idea is to start dialogue as early as possible because there are benefits to both of [First Nations and those who stake claims] in this picture.” ”  Source
  • Outside the Ring of Fire, but worthy of note:  First Nation says they want a mining exploration company to leave their traditional lands.  Mining company says they’re planning to get work done (including looking at security measures).  Ontario “withdraw(s) lands in the vicinity of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) from prospecting and mining claim staking to give clarity to the province’s mineral exploration industry and avoid future disagreements over the land in question ….”

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

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