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Ring of Fire News – 12 Mar 12

  • Northeastern Ontario MPP’s Trade Mission Completed  “The Ring of Fire is the opportunity this region needs, and Vic Fedeli hopes a recent trade mission gives local companies a leg up in the competition. On Friday, the Nipissing MPP hosted a trade mission with seven local mining and manufacturing firms to the Ring of Fire chromite deposit near James Bay.  “This trip is to familiarize North Bay companies with the Ring of Fire and to make introductions,” Fedeli said. “So they can see first hand the real need, what the challenges are and spur creativity as to what we can do and what we can offer.” The mission included senior executives from Redpath, J.L. Richards, Stantec, Foraco, First North Enterprises and GAP …. “ SourceMore
  • Municipal Concerns (1)  “Alan Spacek, president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), attended the Ontario Good Roads Association/Rural Ontario Municipal Association annual meeting, to meet with several ministers regarding northern issues ….  In a meeting with Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Mr. Spacek said the key focus was on power cost and ensuring that there is a competitive industrial energy rate.  “Energy is a huge cost for industry such as Spruce Falls and that is replicated across the north where companies are leaving or not even looking at coming here due to the high cost,” said Mr. Spacek. “We need to think of the economic development these big industries could create in the north such as mining and the ring of fire, and work on getting a competitive rate.”  …. Spacek added that energy pricing and transmission and resource sharing is something that both groups want to work on with a third party, First Nations.  “We feel it would be beneficial to work with the First Nations and we have had casual conversations with them so far,” added Mr. Spacek. “It would be ideal to have FONOM, NOMA (the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association), and the First Nations join together for a three-party structure for all discussions.”  Source
  • Municipal Concerns (2)  “Anyone in the region who wants to work will have a job over the next decade, says (Thunder Bay’s) mayor.  Keith Hobbs recently returned from the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto that saw more than 30,000 delegates attend …. “It is exciting times. I”m saying in five to seven years if anybody’s unemployed then they’re just lazy. That’s what we’re hearing. We”re hearing it from all of the mining companies that Thunder Bay is going to be a boom city,” Hobbs said …. While the actual mining will be done in other parts of the region, Hobbs said Thunder Bay will be a home base for those companies.  “We are going to be the capital city of the Ring of Fire and I told (Ontario mines minister) Mr. Bartolucci that we are the capital of the North, not Sudbury, and I”m going to keep hammering away at that message,” he said ….”  Source
  • First Nation Developments (1)  “Four First Nations in Northern Ontario …. signed a landmark collaboration agreement to pursue the development and operation of an East-West corridor in the Ring of Fire.  The East-West Corridor Collaborative Agreement was signed between the communities of Webequie, Neskantaga, Eabametoong and Nibinamik at the Aboriginal Forum at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention. Other regional communities such as Mishkeegogaman(g) have also joined the collaboration. The First Nations have been working together to formalize a community-driven strategy on regional infrastructure development. The ultimate goal is to establish a joint venture that will operate an infrastructure, transportation and service corridor for potential mining companies in the Ring of Fire …. “  Source
  • First Nation Developments (2)  Two First Nations:  Mine it Here, Process it Here  “…. Chief Eli Moonias of Marten Falls First Nation and Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation outlined to the Ontario government their position on mining development in their Territory.  Chief Moonias and Chief Gagnon are founding members of the North-South Alliance.  The two Chiefs are in Toronto to monitor Ring of Fire related activity at the Prospector & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange ….  Chief Sonny Gagnon stated, “Communities in the First Nations Territory are not opposed to developments such as the Ring of Fire in their territory.  However, our communities are opposed to developments which do not fully involve our members in the decision making process, which do not minimize environmental impacts and which fail to provide a future for our children, grandchildren and great grand children.” …. As part of the government-to-government negotiations, the communities expect the Governments of Canada and Ontario to:  Acknowledge and support their position that, if Ring of Fire minerals are to be extracted within First Nation Territories, then processing/refining must occur in the Territory; That Exton Siding adjacent to Aroland First Nation is the preferred location for the refining smelter. This location is also supported by the Municipality of Greenstone who are working cooperatively with First Nations. The First Nations believe that this option should be assessed within the environmental assessment process …. Support Matawa communities and other First Nations in their initiative to build and own a North-South power line along the east side of Lake Nipigon. This will supply power to the refinery and ensure connection of the remote communities to the electricity grid ….”  Sourcealternate link (1) alternate link (2)More
  • Consultation (1)  Aboriginal Leader:  Nothing should stop a mining company CEO from calling up a Chief to talk – early in the process  “As representatives of the province and various mining companies participate in the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference this week in Toronto, First Nations continue to wait for dialogue regarding their treaty and traditional territories.  The Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee called on the Ontario government to make the first move.  “The Ontario government is aware that First Nation territories expand beyond reserves,” says Madahbee. “In fact, most of Ontario is subject to First Nation treaty and traditional lands.”  “I’ve spoken with a few Chiefs about mining, forestry and other sectors, and what most First Nations are asking for is mutual respect,” Madahbee continued. “There’s nothing stopping a CEO of any company, or the Minister of any ministry for that matter, from picking up the phone and calling a First Nation to do business in an open process, that’s what consultation is about, it’s about inclusion from the beginning stages.” …. While the Crown may delegate operational aspects of the duty to third parties …. the Crown bears the ultimate legal responsibility to see that the duty is fulfilled.”  “I think the most difficult things only become difficult from a lack of proper dialogue.  Misconceptions happen all the time and it usually happens when one or more parties fail to engage or a miscommunication somewhere down the line.” Madahbee concluded, “First Nations will protect their traditional lands but we’re optimistic that the Ontario government will uphold its fiduciary and treaty responsibilities to consult and accommodate.” ….”  Source
  • Consultation (2)  Lawyer and former MPP Howard Hampton:  Having a CEO call the Chief is better than having an underling make first contact with a First Nation:  “…. Howard Hampton, a former provincial NDP politician in Ontario and now a counsel with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Toronto, has several practical tips on how mining companies should approach the relationship.  Among other things, he says an initial contact with the native group should be made by the company’s chief executive, and not some lieutenant.  It would also be a mistake to assume that native communities aren’t  alive to the possibilities available from mining.  In many cases, they already have mining protocols in place that govern how you should proceed with your project. You must follow them, Mr. Hampton says. “Failing to do so is a sign of disrespect.” ….”  Source
  • Consultation (3)  Former Chief and new president of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Glenn Nolan:  Here’s why a Chief may not get back to a CEO right away  ” …. As a former chief himself, Nolan knows how communities react when big industry comes calling.  “We run into tough things with this business, but it’s nothing being a chief.”  There are constant stresses in dealing with a myriad of on-reserve social issues from prescription drug addiction to housing to potable water.  Answering a  message from a mining company is not a high priority.  “That’s what brings my value to Noront, understanding that sensitivity and the pressure that the communities are under on a daily basis.”  With a developing nickel sulphide and chromite deposit in the James Bay lowlands, he credits Noront President Wes Hanson and COO Paul Semple for recognizing the importance of face time in the communities to solidify relations.  “It’s a real balancing act to ensure that you’re not overwhelming the community with requests” ….”  Source
  • Consultation (4a)  This from an academic on the state of the system in place:  ” …. Rachel Ariss is an assistant professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa.  She said Ontario currently allows mining companies to stake claims on crown land without consulting First Nations. Ariss noted that “free-entry” system conflicts with Treaty rights.  “It’s not about compromise, it’s about change,” Ariss said. “Ontario has to get rid of free-entry “ so that it doesn’t privilege what mining companies do.”  The provincial government recently banned new mining activity on a large tract of land near Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation.  But Ariss said that’s not enough to resolve existing disputes between First Nations and mining companies.  “Basically, Ontario and mining companies see the north… one vast potential mine,” she said. “And that’s how it’s been treated basically ever since the mining act came into operation in the late 1800s. First Nations communities have different visions for their land.”  Ariss is the author of a soon-to-be released book on a previous dispute between KI and the company Platinex. It’s called Keeping the Land: Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Reconciliation and Canadian Law.”  Source
  • Consultation (4b)  More in letter to the editor by Ariss:  “…. Free entry does not provide balance between the desires of mining companies and the province and the rights of First Nations because it grants rights to minerals before consultation. Free entry creates a gold rush mindset among mining exploration companies that they have a right to do what they like, as quickly as possible, with that mining claim. And conflict is then created with First Nations communities …. Balance can only follow respect. Respect follows understanding ….”  Source
  • Speaking of KI, the Chief is reportedly on the site of an exploration dispute  “KI Chief Morris goes to Sherman Lake to guard against GLR, calls on Minister Bartolucci to start negotiating – Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) “As over a hundred KI supporters rallied in Toronto, KI Chief Donny Morris travelled to the Sherman Lake site yesterday to guard against trespass by mining exploration company Gods Lake Resources (GLR).  The Chief is challenging the government of Ontario to avert an escalated conflict with the junior gold exploration company which insists on drilling on leases and claims in an area known to contain sacred burials and other KI cultural values.  Chief Morris posted a youtue video from the site ….” SourceMore (via Google News)
  • Parry Sound-Muskoka Conservative MPP introduces Private Members Bill to scrap the Far North Act.  More on proposed Bill 44, 2011 hereThe caveat:  just like in Ottawa, Private Members Bills have only the slimmest chance of passing without government support.
  • A Legislative Committee of Northern Ontario MPPs Coming to Ontario?  This motion was passed in the Legislature last week: 

    That, in the opinion of this House, a committee of the Legislative Assembly, with authority to meet at the call of the Chair, should be established as follows; That the membership of the committee be comprised of every member of the Legislative Assembly whose electoral district lies north of the French River; and That the committee be empowered to consider and report to the House its observations, opinions and recommendations on all policies and legislation of the province that directly impact Northern Ontario; and To which any bills whose principal focus and impact affect Northern Ontario may be referred.”  Resolution text Hansard (debate transcript) – More  Note to some media:  this is a PRIVATE MEMBERS’ MOTION (something reflecting the will of the Legislature, but is not binding on Government), not a PRIVATE MEMBERS BILL (a bill that can become legislation if it gets the support of the ruling party).  Either way, though, not much chance of moving forward without government party support.


More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1-12 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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