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 – 9 Apr 12

  • Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver continues to spread the “faster environmental assessments are good for business” message  “The Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, today highlighted in a speech to the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce the Harper Government’s commitment to supporting jobs and economic growth by streamlining the review process for major economic projects. “The Harper Government is focused on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Oliver. “Major economic projects in Canada are currently subject to long, unpredictable and potentially endless delays because of a needlessly complex and duplicative approval process. Streamlining this process for major economic projects will result in the creation of good, skilled, well-paying jobs.” Economic Action Plan 2012 will provide fixed timelines for project reviews and assessments: — Panel Reviews – 24 months — National Energy Board Hearings – 18 months — Standard Environmental Assessments – 12 months “Our Government recognizes that the existing system needs comprehensive reform,” said Minister Oliver. “We will bring forward legislation to implement system-wide improvements to achieve the goal of ‘one project, one review’ in a clearly defined time period.” ….” Source
  • Not everybody’s buying Minister Oliver’s message  “A group of concerned citizens say the federal government wants to trash the environmental process. But Canada’s Natural Resources Minister says changes will make it more effective. Minister Joe Oliver was in Thunder Bay Thursday to highlight the government’s economic action plan and the importance of natural resources. He also spoke about modernizing regulations as a way to stimulate that sector, which he says could generate $500 billion in the next decade. But around a dozen protesters outside of the Valhalla Inn weren’t buying it. “Of course mining and resource development is important for Canadians but pulling all the oil and all the tar and all the metals out of the ground as quick as we can and selling them to foreign entities, it’s not the best way to develop economically and it’s a disaster for the environment,” said Paul Berger. In a brief interview with local media, Oliver said creating one environmental process and capping it at two years of review is enough. And the federal government will ensure that the assessment is complete, independent and based on science ….” Source
  • Thunder Bay’s Mayor giving up?  “Mayor Keith Hobbs said the writing’s been on the wall for a year or more, and the message probably isn’t a good one for Thunder Bay. Hobbs was reacting Monday to news that Cliffs Natural Resources’ suggestion the mining giant is still working with its best case scenario location for a much-sought after ferrochrome processing plant and it’s likely Sudbury will be made the official location. A decision could come in a matter of weeks. Hobbs called the decision disappointing, though hasn’t entirely given up hope the project and 500 jobs can be salvaged for Thunder Bay. “We wouldn’t be surprised by that,” Hobbs said. “The Northwest, NOMA and the City of Thunder Bay, we were all prepared for that. “When we went to Cliffs last year in Cleveland and met with them, they told us that when they found out the Kinghorn (rail) line was gone, that we dropped from base case to maybe second base case. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if it went to Sudbury at all.” Andrew Mitchell, a director of development for Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc., said the final decision will come down to one factor – energy. “The key driver in the ferrochrome is power costs,” Mitchell said. “That is one of the most significant operating cost components and it’s also one of the things that takes the most in-depth negotiation with the suppliers. “So that will probably be the key thing we key on. There are other things such as jurisdictions that will factor in as well.” Mitchell said it is his preference to house the plant, which could be operational by the end of 2015, in Ontario …. Mitchell told Thunder Bay Television on Wednesday the U.S.-based company is working hard at the logistics of the location of the ferrochrome processing facility, but they aren’t in a position to officially say anything just yet. “We’ll be proceeding with a definitive feasibility study … and that will probably take about a year,” Mitchell said ….”  Source
  • Lakehead University getting in on the Ring of Fire action (to work with industry as well as communities)  “Lakehead University is in the early stages of developing a centre focused on Mineral Exploration and Sustainable Mining Development. President Brian Stevenson said the university needs to support economic growth in Thunder Bay and the northwest. He said the program would differ from Laurentian University’s existing Mining Innovation Centre. “What we’re trying to do is train people for our region, research for the companies that are working in the Ring of Fire (in) northwestern Ontario,” Stevenson said. “[We also want] to complement what other institutions do, like Laurentian.” Stevenson said Lakehead’s centre would bring faculty together to research mining and its implications from various perspectives, including geology, environmental studies, engineering, business, natural resource sciences and aboriginal studies. He said the centre would not only support the mining industry, but also communities affected by Ring of Fire development. “It’s what kind of service and support we can provide to communities in northwestern Ontario … in terms of social and cultural and historical (and) linguistic,” Stevenson said. “All the things that only a university can do in terms of research and … training.” He said he hopes to have a formal proposal for the centre ready by this fall.”  Source
  • MiningWatch Canada: Why isn’t Ontario cranking up the the mining tax revenue?  “With an overwhelming emphasis on reducing expenditures, this week’s Ontario budget misses an important opportunity to increase provincial revenues from the mining sector. When compared with other Canadian jurisdictions, Ontario has the lowest corporate tax rate for mining and recoups the lowest share of the value of mineral production. The Drummond Report recommended removing the “Resource Credit” that lowers the corporate tax rates and reviewing the Ontario Mining Tax. Today’s budget does neither, giving up hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue …. For the third year running, the budget also references the proposed chromite, nickel and copper developments in the Ring of Fire area of northern Ontario. There is, however, no commitment to funds for reviewing the developments, consultation with First Nations, baseline studies, etc. Past budgets have established an advisory council and secretariat but the public is left to wonder what these bodies are doing and what they have accomplished as there has been no reporting on their activities, at least none that I can find.”  Source
  • Editorial points fingers at First Nations making life harder for exploration companies  “In their budgets this week Ontario and Ottawa placed much stock in the Ring of Fire mineral deposit here in Northern Ontario. The province is anxious for a big boost to an economy wasted by recession. The feds want business to drive the economy. Both singled out the Ring of Fire. But all is not well in the northern mining patch. First nations are demanding consultation. A legal “duty to consult” has failed in most cases to facilitate successful conclusions to aboriginal claims. Government can’t seem to break the logjam and while some companies have successfully negotiated agreements with neighbouring first nations, others are stymied — and annoyed. At the mining industry’s recent national conference in Toronto, a splinter group of some 60 junior companies called Miners United met. They are concerned about native demands for concessions and cash. Bands are charging for exploratory drilling and the price often tops $100,000. Junior firms say they cannot afford it. A new Ontario Mining Act would require exploration companies to file plans with the government and native groups, and seek permits before drilling. Many try talking but cannot make headway. Others say it’s up to government. Ontario paid one company $5 million to abandon its claim located far across a lake from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, then withdrew 25,000 square kilometres there from development. Last week, it paid another company $3.5 million to leave its claim around a former gold mine near KI. Chief Donny Morris says he needs time to delineate a burial site he himself estimates is roughly a kilometre away. It’s been four years since the first company was paid to leave. Matawa First Nations demand the biggest Ring proposal be subject to public hearings rather than an environmental assessment. This is getting out of hand. Miners are frustrated, governments aren’t able to act as brokers and bands’ demands are all over the map. Governments foresee big things in Northern Ontario, but first they must solve this riddle.”  Source
  • Mining industry observer/blogger compares & contrasts Ontario’s approach to developing its north with Quebec’s  “Two provinces; two budgets; two different approaches to mining. In its March 20 budget, Quebec gave mining a starring role and highlighted its Plan Nord development strategy. Clearly, the Liberal government is banking on a booming mining industry and higher royalties to help it vanquish deficits, reduce debt and sustain social programs. The province is doubling, to $1 billion, its fund for taking equity positions in resource development companies. It’s introducing incentives to encourage domestic ore processing. And it’s creating a mining cluster to involve contractors and promote their services in Canada and around the world …. As The Economist said …. “Except for a bit of mining, Ontario has no energy or natural-resource projects underway, nor any prospects comparable to the west’s energy industry, even Quebec’s vision of hydro-electric plants, mining and forestry.” “A bit of mining.” Nice touch. In its budget, Quebec embraced its natural resources and made them a centrepiece of the future. Ontario gave its natural resources a passing reference and cast them as a nice little regional project. Two provinces; two budgets; two vastly different approaches. As the editorial writers say, time will tell which is the most effective.”  Source

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1 Mar-9 Apr (66 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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