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

Ring of Fire News – 30 Mar 12

NOTE:  Normally, this comes out Monday.  I’m on the road this weekend, so you’ll get a mini-update now, and a longer update on April 9 – see you again then!

  • Ontario Budget 2012 (1)  Several references to the Ring of Fire and mining in this week’s provincial budget:  ” …. Northern Ontario and the Ring of Fire — Resource-based industries are a vital part of a strong northern economy. The discovery of significant mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire, an area in Ontario’s Far North, presents major opportunities. The government has a plan in place to guide resulting investments and to help diversify the northern economy. Northern Ontario will benefit from mining the mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire area, which will help create jobs and better position the northern economy and Aboriginal communities for future growth. Proposed mine developments currently under consideration in the Ring of Fire are expected to create more than 1,500 permanent jobs once the mines are in full production. Additional jobs will be created in the mining service and supply sector. The government is building partnerships with northern Ontarians, Aboriginal communities and industry to maximize the benefits and overcome challenges associated with developing the Ring of Fire. In addition, the government is proposing legislation that would facilitate the implementation of a 1995 land claim settlement agreement by providing that certain lands held in trust for the Nipissing First Nation be deemed tax exempt under the Assessment Act …. The federal government should enhance its support for Ontario’s clean energy sector, the Ring of Fire and an east-west electricity transmission grid ….  Support for Clean Energy and the Ring of Fire — Ontario is very proud of the work being done by Canadians in every province and territory across the country to strengthen the national economy. Continued economic growth is important to all Canadians. In other provinces, the federal government supports the oil and gas industries and energy sector with investments in technological developments such as carbon capture and storage and through loan guarantees. Energy and growth opportunities exist in Ontario as well and also merit federal investment. Ontario has become a North American leader in clean energy — with 50,000 jobs being created province-wide. Ontario also has an unparalleled opportunity to develop and mine the Ring of Fire, bringing jobs and economic development to the north. (See Chapter I: Transforming Public Services for more details.) Ontario is also encouraging the federal government to provide enhanced financial support and the appropriate regulatory environment for an eastwest transmission grid, including increasing Ontario’s interconnections, to allow for transmission of clean, emissions-free electricity across provincial jurisdictions. Greater regional integration of electricity grids would provide greater incentives for the development of new, larger-scale renewable projects ….” Source (full budget document, PDF)
  • Ontario Budget 2012 (2)  Still, seen as not enough in some eyes  “Some (Thunder Bay) officials were surprised the Ring of Fire was largely absent from Tuesday’s provincial budget. In his speech, which went beyond the 28 minute mark, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan didn’t mention the potential multi-billion dollar money maker once. Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Harold Wilson said he thought this was going to be the budget where the province outlined its plan, with dollar figures, on how to get the minerals shipped and power running in the Far North. “That I thought would have been front and centre,” Wilson said. “We didn’t see any of that and that would have been great.” Mayor Keith Hobbs was disappointed about the province’s Ring of Fire plan, a document he has yet to see. “In infrastructure we’re waiting for a little more than what I see so far in the budget. The government says they have a plan in place for the Ring of Fire. We didn’t see any plan … I would really like to see specifics of that plan. “The government says they have a plan. Well, show it to us, because municipalities in the Northwest in particular would like to see the plan and what the government has planned for infrastructure,” Hobbs said, “whether it’s roads, rail, etc. to bring that mining industry to the Northwest.” But MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay-Atikokan) said the plan shouldn’t be expected from a budget. Mauro wanted to make it clear that the development is one of the province’s top priorities and that multiple ministries are working on the Ring of Fire and all Ontario mining activity all the time. “This is an incredibly complex project. There are multiple pieces to it and while I understand some anxiety over the issue … those sorts of negotiations going on related to the Ring of Fire are not the type of issues that find themselves in a provincial budget,” he said …. “  Source Moremore
  • Ontario Budget 2012 (3)  Some initial Aboriginal response  “…. The budget proposes to reduce spending by $17.7 billion over the next three years while increasing revenues by $4.4 billion without raising taxes. Ontario Regional Chief Toulouse indicated the provincial budget contained no new spending announcements targeted for the First Nations population but that it outlined specific priorities in several areas that are of concern to the First Nations in Ontario. “Clearly the focus of this budget is on cost containment and finding ways to generate new revenue. The First Nations in this province understand the financial realities but we are disappointed that there was no new investment,” stated Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. The budget reiterated the province’s priority to continue development in the Ring of Fire area of northern Ontario, and indicated that the federal government should fund First Nations education at parity with “per student provincial funding for elementary and secondary education” and that they are prepared to share their expertise should federal funds be provided. The Regional Chief indicated that these announcements are not new and that the province has been clear that they view development in the Ring of Fire as a key economic driver for northern Ontario and Ontario as a whole. “The First Nations in the Ring of Fire area remain firm; their views must be respected, they expect to be fully involved in all activities relating to infrastructure and mine development from the beginning and throughout the entire process. It is the First Nations that should benefit the most as it is their lands and waters that will be directly impacted when all is said and done. In their haste to reap the benefits of these resource development activities, the government cannot forget that First Nations have Treaty rights and the right to free prior and informed consent with respect to what happens on their lands,” said the Regional Chief ….”  Source
  • Federal Budget 2012  Here’s the main budget page, and here’s some highlights from the “Responsible Resource Development” page“…. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes to streamline the review process for major economic projects, support consultation with Aboriginal peoples, and strengthen pipeline and marine safety …. The Economic Action Plan proposes investments totalling $165 million over two years for responsible resource development that creates jobs while protecting the environment. This includes:     $54 million over two years to renew the Major Projects Management Office initiative to support effective project approvals.    $13.6 million over two years to support consultations with Aboriginal peoples to ensure that their rights and interests are respected …. Extension of the temporary 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for flow-through share investors for an additional year ….”
  • Deja vu all over again at Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug  Ontario has reached an agreement with Toronto-based junior mineral exploration company God’s Lake Resources (GLR) to surrender its mining lease and claims near the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation. In keeping with the agreement, GLR has surrendered its mining lease and claims, north of Red Lake in Northwestern Ontario. The lands are now subject to the Province’s recent withdrawal from staking and mineral exploration in the area. It was the ministry’s goal to see KI and GLR work together to build a positive relationship. This settlement responds to KI’s concerns, while allowing GLR to move forward with mineral exploration in other parts of the province in the future …. Ontario is responsible for managing Crown lands and the natural resources of the province. At the same time, Ontario is committed to meeting its constitutional obligations to Aboriginal peoples. Ontario will pay GLR $3.5 million in return for surrendering its lease and claims in the Red Lake area ….” – here’s where something similar happened in 2009.   Source (Government of Ontario news release) – more (company news release) – More from the In Support of Mining blog
  • Some mining reps are calling for more guidance, help from government in dealing with First Nations  “On the sidelines of the mining industry’s massive annual conference in Toronto in early March, a group of disgruntled junior exploration companies held a private meeting. Calling themselves Miners United, the ad-hoc group of about 60 small-firm executives shared concerns about the concessions and cash they say native bands expect from companies looking for minerals on Crown lands that are considered traditional aboriginal territory, where bands retain hunting and fishing rights. Scores of disputes between native groups and mining companies now end up in court. A landmark 2004 Supreme Court of Canada decision said the Crown has a “duty to consult” native bands about development on Crown land that is considered part of a band’s traditional territory. Courts have allowed governments to delegate part of this duty to resource companies, many of whom then negotiate agreements with native groups. But there is a growing backlash among junior miners about these agreements. “There’s a revolt taking place, frankly,” said Neal Smitheman, a lawyer with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP who acts for junior mining firms in disputes with aboriginal groups and who spoke at the Toronto meeting. “What’s being asked of them has nothing to do with consultation. It has everything to do with compensation.” …. “There’s a bunch of us in the industry happy that someone takes a hard-line stand. He may be taking too rigid a stand,” said Garry Clark, executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association. He also attended the meeting of Miners United, which he said may end up as a subcommittee of the OPA. Mr. Clark said the prices that native bands are charging for exploratory drilling keep rising and often top $100,000. Junior exploration firms, with no revenue, cannot afford such prices, he said. In some cases, exploration companies are paying per drill hole, or per metre of drilling, Mr. Clark said, adding that the Ontario government doesn’t know how much cash is changing hands because the deals are usually confidential. Mr. Clark favours consultations with native groups, to ensure drilling operations do not disrupt hunting season, for example; or, once a mine is being built, to ensure local people benefit from its operations. While he believes Ontario’s new rules may ease the disputes, he is not sure they will stop the flow of cash to native groups at the exploration stage: “They have to understand that we can’t be held, more or less, to ransom to get on the land.” ”  Source more

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1-29 Mar 12 (52 page 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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