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What's up with the biggest thing happening in mining in NW Ontario?

Ring of Fire News – 26 Mar 12

  • Noront predicts WAY more chromite available at Blackbird  “Noront Resources said a new mineral estimate has tripled the resources for its Blackbird chromite deposit in the Ring of Fire. The measured resource is 9.3 million tonnes average 37.44 per cent chrome ore and an indicated resource of 11.2 million tonnes averaging 34.36 per cent chrome ore. In a March 20 statement, Noront CEO Wes Hanson said drilling at Blackbird “exceeded expectations,” especially in converting a large percentage of the deposit to the measured and indicated classification. “The updated estimate demonstrates that Blackbird is similar in size and grade to the nearby Big Daddy and Black Thor chromite deposits.” Noront is doing the evaluations for a mine, mill and smelter facility in northwestern Ontario capable of producing between 200,000 and 250,000 tonnes of ferrochrome annually. For its flagship Eagle’s Nest nickel deposit in the Ring of Fire, Noront is putting together the final costs for a feasibility study which is expected out within few weeks.”  Source Company news release more more
  • Ontario’s Mining Commissioner to consider whether Cliffs should get a road along a string of claims connecting the Ring of Fire to Nakina  “KWG Resources and Cliffs Natural Resources hope to have a date soon with Ontario’s mining commissioner to settle a dispute over a Ring of Fire transportation corridor. Cliffs wants road access to a string of mining claims staked by Canada Chrome, a subsidiary company of KWG, and have applied to the Ministry of Natural Resources for an easement. The claims were set aside for a future railroad to haul chromite out of the James Bay lowlands. KWG is not granting consent and argues that the “desired easement” by Cliffs is an impediment and that the MNR has no authority to deal with the matter. Company vice-president Bruce Hodgman said once KWG denied consent, procedure dictates that the matter must go before the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner. Cliffs’ request for an easement involves a “big chunk” of the rail corridor, a 300-kilometre-long route from the Ring of Fire chromite deposits to Exton in northwestern Ontario, said Hodgman. “It’s right on top of the claims for a good part of the way. We staked on top of an esker, about 100 metres wide, and it’s the only place that road or rail could go.” KWG is a minority partner in one of the chromite deposits owned by Cliffs ….” Source Company news release
  • Some editorial speculation about what else’ll go into transportation corridor decisions  “…. The RoF is a 5,000-square-kilometre tract of land that is potentially a 100-year source of minerals valued at up to $1 trillion–the same value placed on all the minerals extracted in Sudbury since mining began there. The RoF sits 500 km northwest of Thunder Bay.  It contains chromite, nickel, copper and other minerals. Such are its riches that people in Thunder Bay are musing about whether the region is prepared to handle up to 55,000 jobs the RoF could create. Nice problem. Not so nice if you’re a government eager to capitalize on the economic boost the RoF can generate for the entire province and you’ve just drawn a road map for First Nations willing to wait out mining firms.  Bartolucci says most First Nations are anxious to reap the economic benefits of the RoF, so he sees several impact benefit agreements that have been signed as the “model” for how development will unfold. The Liberals are trying to juggle a lot of balls to develop the RoF. Here’s one: Cliffs Natural Resources, which plans to spend $3 billion on its properties, including construction of a $1.8 billion  ferrochome smelter possibly in either Greater Sudbury or Thunder Bay, wants a 600-km north-south transportation corridor built to facilitate movement of ore.  It’s the most economical route, Cliffs says. And it would make construction of a smelter in Sudbury possible. But four First Nations bands have signed an agreement to seek an east-west route, which would pretty much force a smelter to be built in the tiny community of Greenstone. That would open up the possibility of providing power to some isolated fly-in communities that are running on diesel fuel. Premier Dalton McGuinty says the province will play a “modest” role in deciding the route of the transportation corridor. Ultimately, Cliffs will decide where it wants to build its smelter. And the location will likely identify the required transportation route. But considering the life-changing stakes involved for isolated First Nations communities, the company might not have the clout it thought it did.”  Source
  • Canada’s Natural Resources Minister continues to sell fewer regulatory roadblocks (while maintaining consultation, accommodation with Aboriginal groups)  “Changes to speed up the approvals process for major natural resource projects will be introduced in the coming months, the minister of Natural Resources says. “I can’t speak to the specific date, but the whole point (is) we want the regulatory process to move more quickly, and so we really have to get on with it ourselves. So we’re talking months, not years,” Joe Oliver said Friday …. “I can’t talk about the detail as specifics, but we’re going to make sure that there’s an adequate and respectful constitutionally driven consultation process. In other words, we want to have an open dialogue with aboriginal communities. We’re not going to be doing anything that is going to undermine the ability of the regulator to do a thorough environmental review. We don’t want projects to go ahead that aren’t safe for Canadians and safe for the environment” …. He stressed that, in bringing in this new process, the environment and the needs of aboriginal communities will still be taken into consideration. “We are not going to compromise the ability of people with a direct interest in the project to be heard as part of the regulatory process. That of course includes aboriginal communities, to whom we owe a constitutional duty of consultation and accommodation. We don’t believe that there’s an inconsistency between a regulatory system that’s modern, effective, efficient and timely and our responsibilities to the environment and aboriginal peoples” ….”  Source
  • Ontario winding down rail service into Far North as part of budget cuts  The cash-strapped province has announced plans to wind down the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and sell eight government buildings ahead of next week’s budget, in a move that could affect hundreds of workers across the north …. New Democrat Taras Natyshak said the sale of Ontario Northland will be “absolutely devastating,” especially at a time when the north is on the brink of developing much-needed economic activity with the Ring of Fire mining project. “It’s going to hamper the development, it’s going to hamper the opportunities for First Nations, and we think it actually kneecaps our ability to benefit from that development as a whole,” Natyshak said ….”  Source Ontario news releaseMore on Ontario’s “new approach to regional transportation” Moremore
  • Ontario’s ROF Co-ordinator: Pressure’s on to develop skilled labour pool, already talking to the feds about public-private partnership on infrastructure  ” …. The development and other major mining projects in Ontario”s north spell good news for builders in coming years but the construction industry is under pressure to develop a skilled labour pool to meet the demand. Christine Kaszycki told delegates at the Ontario Construction Secretariat”s 12th Annual State of the Industry and Outlook Conference recently that to date $208 million has gone into exploration of what is estimated to be several billion dollars worth of development in the ROF. An additional $84 million will go into exploration this year. Kaszycki, assistant deputy minister, Ring of Fire Secretariat, Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry (MNDMF), was a speaker at a session called Ontario”s Mining Industry ” Growth, Opportunity and Challenges. Responsible for the coordination and implementation of the ROF development opportunities, she said environmental assessments are under way by two mining companies, Noront Resources and Cliffs Natural Resources, which are slated for completion at the end of 2013. To expect a private-public partnership (P3) to build that infrastructure is “reasonable,” Kaszycki said, adding there have been discussions with the federal government over P3 financing models and variations on that theme with the province. “Ontario at the very least has to provide the service leases etc. to put transportation and any kind of infrastructure in place,” she said ….”  Source

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1-24 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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