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

Ring of Fire News – 16 Apr 12

  • You have more time to comment on Noront’s Eagle’s Nest project initial paperwork – new deadline is May 7, 2012  Source –  Noront Twitter post
  • More on Sudbury looking like it’s really leading the “who gets the chromite smelter?” race  “The consensus among Greater Sudbury’s northern rivals is the nickel city has — as expected — won the marathon to host Cliffs Natural Resources’ prized ferrochrome smelter. Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs made clear last week that Cliffs officials told him the company, long leaning toward the northeast, is now entirely focused on Sudbury. Cleveland-based Cliffs is the principal in the development of the Ring of Fire deposit in the James Bay Lowlands and plans to spend close to $3 billion to get its chromite project into production. About $1.8 billion of that is to build a ferrochrome processing plant. In addition to Sudbury and Thunder Bay, Timmins and Greenstone, the town closest to the minesite, were considered possible locations for the plant. In 2010, Cliffs announced its base-case smelter locatiwon was Moose Mountain Mine north of Capreol because of proximity to rail and hydro corridors and Sudbury’s large, experienced workforce. The CBC reports Cliffs purchased the property last year. Hobbs predicts Sudbury will be made the official location this spring. Thunder Bay lobbied Cliffs hard for the smelter last fall, trumpeting its shipping advantages. However, Hobbs told http://www.thbnewswatch.com last week he expects Cliffs to give the nod to Sudbury in a matter of weeks. “I talked to Ron Nelson from NOMA and we both got the impression that Sudbury was going to be it,” Hobbs said. “But you know, we still have to wait for these things, you still have to put your best case forward.” Andrew Mitchell, a director of development for Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc., told Thunder Bay Television the final decision will come down to electricity. “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.” In Timmins, consensus is the eminent sale of the Ontario Northland Railway will sink that city’s chances of attracting Cliffs’ smelter. Greenstone, meanwhile, which has native leaders in the northwest of the province onside, can meet none of Cliffs’ electricity, transportation or workforce needs ….”  Source
  • What a recent workforce forecast report had to say about mining in northwestern Ontario  “…. The study results indicate that even under a good case scenario (no downturn in the mining industry), the number of jobs being created every year would be around 300-400. The occupations in highest demand will include trades and production occupations such as underground miners, millwrights, mineral processors, heavy equipment operators and electricians. This is not surprising given that many current projects are expected to move into production …. “  Source “Custom Labour Market Report – Thunder Bay District Mining Industry” (34 page PDF)
  • A group calling itself “First Nations First” is calling for Ontario to start consulting First Nations, not passing the consultation baton to mining companies  “While Ontario’s mining sector booms, the provincial government continues to struggle to develop a coherent and legally sound legislative regime that meets its constitutional responsibilities to Aboriginal peoples. In the wake of Wahgoshig First Nation’s successful injunction against Solid Gold Resources, Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is touring the province trumpeting new Mining Acts regulations that, according to Ontario, will clarify and bolster the fulfullment of the Crown’s duty to consult Aboriginal peoples. Rather than alleviate tension between First Nations and mining companies, the proposed regulations risk increasing disagreements to the detriment of both. This is the because the proposed regulations contradict fundamental principles of the duty to consult. The regulations would codify the current state of affairs in Ontario: the province delegates consultation to mining companies, leaving it to play mainly a supervisory and final adjudicative role to determine whether the company adqueately with affected First Nations …. Ontario should address this issue by publicly confirming that mining company consultation is not intended to substitute for direct consultation between Ontario and First Nations. Ontario should further confirm it will enter into direct government-to-government consultation with First Nations with the intention of substantially addressing their concerns and nterests including revenue-sharing and shared decision-making. Unfortunately, to date Ontario has consistently refused to make these commitments. As long as Ontario continues to delegate its constitutional obligations to mining companies there is little prospect that its Mining Act modernization efforts will create greater legal certainty in Ontario’s mining sector.”  Source – PDF news release also downloadable here
  • Aboriginal media shares its take on the latest Ontario payout of a company exploring in First Nation traditional territory  “…. KI was not the one who profited from its battle with GLR. The First Nation spent months of its own time and resources dealing with the controversy, and in the end its only victory was a retreat to the way things were before GLR showed up on its lands, uninvited and unannounced. Meanwhile the company walked away from the Sherman Lake claims – its only mining claim – with $3.5 million, despite having done limited exploration work. The odds are good that GLR made a sizeable profit in the deal with Ontario. The real worry with the outcome of the KI – GLR conflict is not that First Nations will start opposing more projects. Some First Nation opposition is inevitable when the current system continues to grant leases on traditional lands before any consultation work is done. The real worry with Ontario’s buy out of GLR is that small, rogue mining companies start to consider claim-staking a profitable exercise in and of itself. If conflicts between small companies and First Nations over mining claims continue to result in multi-million dollar payouts to the company in question, the economics of those conflicts start to look pretty good. That really would make northern Ontario start to look like the wild west. And meanwhile all the good, hard work on consultation and development with First Nations done by the many responsible mining companies working across the North would go out the window ….”  Source
  • Remember Miners United, the group of mining companies wanting Ontario to make consulting rules clearer (bullet 6)?  Some First Nations are somewhat prepared to speak to the group.  “Treaty 3 has cautiously agreed to speak with 60 junior mining outfits who make up Miners United, provided the companies leave “racist” attitudes behind. Last week’s resolution at Grand Council voted the companies “will not be tolerated” in Treaty 3 territory, due to media reports describing their “revolt” against First Nations consultation. Following a conversation with the Ontario Prospector’s Association, Treaty 3 Grand Chief Diane Kelly said defiant and ignorant approaches to consultation would not be tolerated. “Those kinds of attitudes are not going to be tolerated by anybody. We’re not just wandering around in the bush looking for blueberries,” Kelly said, pointing to Miners United members’ public statements regarding unwillingness to look for arrowheads on behalf of First Nations communities. “It’s just fuelling the fire when there’s comments like that in their press release,” she explained. “We’re not against economic activity, we just want to make sure our rights are respected and we’re part of it.” …. “  Source
  • Not in the Ring of Fire, but an interesting look at one effect of one mine near one First Nation (note:  a CBC radio story says the “other meeting” the Chief was handling while speaking to reporters was with a mining company) “Isolation often takes the blame as the source of many problems on remote reserves. But Chief Pierre Morriseau has decidedly mixed feelings about that. His Oji-Cree community 320 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout, Ont., is definitely remote. During the winter, an ice road connects North Caribou Lake to other communities in the lake-soaked terrain of northwestern Ontario. The rest of the year, it’s fly-in only. But the Musselwhite gold mine nearby flies many of the local residents in and out every two weeks. On paper, that means jobs, decent pay and training. So even though official statistics show only 10 per cent of the population has graduated from high school, the band only relies on government money for 30 per cent of its revenue. “There’s lots of people working. It gives people some hope,” says Mike Jeremiah, home for a couple of weeks from before heading back to the mine for another two-week stint. But in practice, much of that money these days is spent on financing a prescription drug addiction that has affected up to half of the community’s adults. They are addicted mainly to opioids such as OxyContin and Percocet. The prices are far higher than in the city, selling for about $150 for just one of the weakest pills, and up to $800 for the most powerful pills. Petty crime is rising. Children are missing school because their parents can’t get up in the morning. The sparse nursing staff at the health centre is overwhelmed. “They (addicts) broke into my house a couple times,” says Linda Kanate, whose son is an addict. “They have to have it.” For Morriseau, the world of globalization, money and people leaving the reserve on a regular basis have led to the end of a way of life. “I have very mixed feelings about the mining,” Morriseau says during a break from meetings in the band office, choosing his words carefully. He was speaking to reporters, federal MP Carolyn Bennett and Stan Beardy, the grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which advocates on behalf of many first Nations in northern Ontario ….”  Source

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1-13 Apr 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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