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

Ring of Fire News – 26 May 12

  • Ontario’s Premier seeks Ottawa’s help (1)  “Premier Dalton McGuinty is asking for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s help in developing the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario.  McGuinty says he spoke to Harper on Tuesday about how they could work together with First Nations communities to develop the massive mining project.  He says they need to build a road and extend an electricity transmission line to the Ring of Fire, about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.  McGuinty says the province can’t do it alone and thinks he piqued Harper’s curiosity about the project, which includes the largest chromite discovery in North America …. McGuinty’s meeting with Harper wasn’t mentioned in his daily itinerary that’s sent to reporters, even though it has included meetings with visiting politicians in recent weeks.  Asked why the meeting was kept secret, McGuinty’s staff said the premier has private, informal meetings with politicians from time to time.”  Source more more more more
  • Ontario’s Premier seeks Ottawa’s help (2)  Netnewsledger.com shares excerpts of what appears to be a May 8, 2012 letter from Premier McGuinty to Prime Minister Harper:  “The Ring of Fire, located 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, is one of the most promising mineral development opportunities in Canada in almost a century …. Tomorrow morning, Cliffs Natural Resources management plans to announce the Ontario location of their ferrochrome processing facility, and Ontario Ministers will announce the province’s plans to engage First Nations in the region to help those communities benefit from this historic opportunity …. I am writing to invite your government to take a more active role in supporting the tremendous economic development opportunity associated with the Ring of Fire …. Canada needs to deal with the acknowledged and widespread problems of inadequate First Nation’s social and community infrastructure. To this end there needs to be immediate investment in the First Nations communities located in the Ring of Fire area so that a healthy and skilled First Nations workforce will be ready to participate fully in the many opportunities presented by this development …. Most urgently, increased federal support for basic education leading to skills training and investment in addictions treatment programs are needed now. Your 2012 budget takes some important first steps to improve First Nations education on reserves. Cliffs Natural Resources has invested in drug treatment programs in the region. This should be supported by addictions treatment investments on reserves by your government …. Using a tripartite process, I would like to build on the work that has been done to date by our officials on the Ring of Fire. I understand a multi-ministry meeting of senior officials has recently been organized. I would like to see the Ring of Fire become as high a priority for your government as it is for mine, for the benefit of Ontario – and indeed all Canadians – for generations to come. Just as the federal government has supported large-scale resource development initiatives in other parts of Canada, Ontarians need a strong federal partner to allow us to continue generating the economic prosperity that helps support this country. I trust I can count on your government’s support. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss this further.”  Source 
  • Ontario’s Premier seeks Ottawa’s help (3)  Any initial response from the feds?  Sorta-kinda“…. Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver declined on Friday to comment specifically on whether Ottawa will help develop the Ring of Fire but he made a point of saying an abundance of natural resources in every region of Canada represent enormous economic potential.  “We’re looking at well in excess of over 500 projects [across Canada], and over half a trillion dollars in 10 years of investments,” Mr. Oliver said in Edmonton at a joint news conference with Alberta Premier Alison Redford. “This is going to produce hundreds of thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in economic activity, and billions of dollars in revenue to governments at every level.”  ….”  Source
  • Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources meets with northern Ontario First Nation leaders to sort out land use planning issues  “Michael Gravelle has tested the waters to see if Northern First Nation communities wanted to join forces to manage areas covered in the Far North Act.  The Minister of Natural Resources met with representatives from Northern First Nation communities at the Travelodge Hotel on Wednesday. The group spent the day discussing a potential joint body in regards to the Far North Act where First Nation communities would have more input on policies.  The Far North Act, which was passed in 2010, represents 42 per cent of Ontario or 450,000 square kilometres and applies to public lands in the Far North but not to First Nation communities or to federal, private or municipal lands.  In order to manage development plans better, the province implemented a community based land use initiative with the intent to have direct input from First Nation communities.  Gravelle said the joint body, made up of equal membership of First Nation and government officials, would be able to coordinate the Far North Land Use Planning process together.  There has been some success already with five land use plans already in place and several others in the middle of negotiations.  He said the decision to have these discussions followed an amendment in the original legislation.  “(First Nation communities) have made it clear right off the top that they did not like the process by which the (the Far North Act) went through,” Gravelle said.  “We’re engaged in a land use planning process that basically asks the First Nations how much of their traditional territory they want to see protected from an ecological or economical point of view and how much they want to see developed.  “What this is ultimately doing is providing clarity for businesses and industry but also respects the First Nations need to determine what parts of their land they want to see protected from future development.”  Gravelle said it’s all in the hands of the First Nation communities if they want to move forward with this plan.  “If they feel that a join body that they can put input into the policies implications, as well as implementation and coordination for the Far North Land Use Planning process is something they want to move forward on then we want to do that with them,” he said.  “I feel good about the discussions today. We will determine if we are going to move on to another discussion and I’m optimistic that we will.” “  Source 
  • Northern Ontario Heritage Fund money flowing to First Nations doing training, mining stuff  “Ontario is helping First Nations communities across Northern Ontario strengthen their local economies and create jobs.  Through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), the Province will help the following five First Nations create new economic opportunities and develop the infrastructure needed to attract new investment …. Kasabonika First Nation, through the Kasabonika Community Development Corporation, will receive funding to purchase a portable diamond drill in order to provide drilling services to exploration companies in the area.  Eabametoong First Nation will receive funding to build a facility that will support new programming and training needs for Eabametoong residents. The facility will provide space for meetings and geographic information system (GIS) work, and will also offer rental office space that can be used for new programs or exploration companies working in the area.  Windigo First Nations Council will receive funding to lead a consultation process among participating First Nations regarding the construction of an electrical transmission line that would connect 10 Far North First Nations to the Ontario power grid ….”  Source (news release) more
  • Speaking of mining, Ontario’s Geological Survey drops by a northern First Nation to do a bit of land use planning work  @OGSgeology Preparing for a 3-day visit with Kasabonika Lake First Nation to discuss land-use planning, including relevance of geology.”  Source (Twitter post) 
  • Coming back to the power grid, FedNor is helping out with First Nations trying to get diesel generation monkey off their backs  “Greg Rickford, Member of Parliament for Kenora, on behalf of the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister for FedNor …. announced a Government of Canada investment of $334,700 to facilitate the planning and community engagement process needed to establish a First Nations-owned electrical transmission business in Northern Ontario.  “The Government of Canada is proud to support the economic development and diversification efforts of First Nation communities in Northern Ontario and across the nation,” said Minister Clement. “This investment will provide First Nations in Ontario’s far north with the opportunity to take charge of their economic future.”  “This initiative will provide partner First Nations with the tools they need to be successful,” stated Greg Rickford, Member of Parliament for Kenora. “It will also enhance collaboration among First Nations, government and private sector stakeholders in the region.”  Working on behalf of remote First Nations in the region, Windigo First Nations Council, along with its partners, Shibogama First Nations Council and the Independent First Nations Alliance, will use the FedNor funding to engage their member communities and gather input on a draft business case to establish a First Nations-owned electrical transmission business in Northern Ontario.  “Currently, we have 10 First Nations in the Musselwhite region that are not on the provincial power grid,” said Frank McKay, Council Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Windigo First Nations Council. “This initiative will help us move to the next phase of development, and ultimately, help create jobs and promote economic growth throughout the area.” ….”  Source (news release) 
  • Speaking of electricity, Ontario’s Conservative leader speaks out for special power rates for the Ring of Fire   “…. if mining companies face energy costs in Northern Ontario that are vastly higher compared to those prevailing in neighboring jurisdictions, there’s a risk our mineral riches will be shipped for processing elsewhere.  Ontario today can’t afford this scenario.  This brings me to what Ontario’s energy policy for manufacturers and resource-based industries such as mining and forestry should do — but doesn’t.  As laid out in our Ontario PC Caucus Paths to Prosperity: Affordable Energy white paper, it’s time to consider a new power rate for our manufacturing and natural resources sectors …. ”  Source 
  • Counterpoint to Hudak’s point re:  electrical rates, from a National Post columnist  “…. There could be a lot of merit in this idea. Ontario’s energy prices are steadily rising, and while homeowners have little choice but to pay the increased bills, businesses deciding where to locate a factory can opt for the jurisdiction with lower electricity costs.  But the PC plan also turns on its ear a whole mess of talking points that Mr. Hudak has been repeating since last fall’s election. He didn’t like the Liberal Green Energy Act, he said, because it unfairly subsidized costs for one industry at the expense of others. He didn’t approve of the Liberal approach to economic growth, he said, because “government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers.” Dalton McGuinty is too focused on his favoured industries, Mr. Hudak said.  I’m not sure how you can describe the PC energy plan other than that it subsidizes costs for some industries at the expense of others, and that it picks winners and losers ….”  Source 
  • Another former Ontario cabinet minister, George Smitherman, talks electricity, this time diesel generated  “…. First Nations communities have experienced the limitations of electricity from diesel for far too long. What is needed is a vision for the expansion of Ontario’s electricity infrastructure northward in a way that would properly accommodate social, environmental and economic needs for all concerned. What is on the table is an electricity solution intended for temporary use, even though the mining activity is expected to last decades.  It’s hard to see how this power situation is supposed to benefit the company’s bottom line. Paying an estimated $2 billion to consume more than a billion litres of diesel over just 10 years seems like a lot of money. Would this money not be better spent on an energy solution that provides cleaner power to the mine and can help create a sustainable electricity legacy for First Nations?  It is surprising that a province that has staked so much on eliminating coal-fired plants would stand by while a much greater health and environmental risk is still on the table.  More outrageous is that the scale of this huge industrial opportunity doesn’t seem sufficiently generous to allow for anyone to proactively address the aspirations of local First Nations.  There are options and alternatives and maybe now that the project has moved into the feasibility stage these alternatives will get due consideration ….”  ( Source )  A little reminder of another hat Smitherman wears that didn’t make it into the signature block of his letter to the editor:  “…. The Municipality of Greenstone has hired Smitherman to try to convince Cliffs Natural Resources to build a chromite processor on the outskirts of Nakina and Aroland First Nation ….” Source
  •  Letter from Federal Conservatives:  BAAAAAD NDP leader for suggesting mining sucks!  “Thomas Mulcair is opposed to resource development in Northern Ontario and the thousands of jobs that will result from it. Instead of recognizing the importance of Canada’s resource sector, he calls it a ‘disease.’  …. mining and forestry companies in this community have demonstrated that meeting our economic objectives does not mean lowering environmental standards. This is not, and never will be an “either/or choice.”  Take for example, the recently announced Cliffs Natural Resources plans to build a $1.8-billion chromite processing facility in the Ring of Fire and which could be worth as much as $50 billion. As well there are estimates for deposits of base metals and platinum-group metals worth as much as $10 billion. Yet Thomas Mulcair and the NDP want to block development of Canada’s natural resources – including here in Northern Ontario – killing the creation of good jobs and economic growth for our region ….  Mr. Mulcair’s economic prescription will raise prices, kill jobs, and hurt Canadian families. We call on him to support important resource development in Northern Ontario. We simply cannot afford the NDP’s reckless approach to our important natural resources. (Signed) Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources; Greg Rickford, MP Kenora, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CanNor and FedNor”  Source

More information (excerpts from open sources monitored 1-25 May 12 (111 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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