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Ring of Fire News – September 14, 2012

  • Cliffs’ New Estimate for Starting Production at Black Thor  “Cliffs Natural Resources is pushing back the start of production at its Ring of Fire chromite deposit in the James Bay lowlands by one year.  In its latest investor presentation, the Ohio miner said Black Thor will begin production in 2016.  “The final decision on the furnace location (in Sudbury) took Cliffs longer than originally planned,” said spokeswoman Pat Persico by email. “This was due to the necessary discussions held with the province of Ontario regarding power and road. As these are very important decisions driving the long-term project, Cliffs is focused on making the best choices and adjusting schedules accordingly.”  First Nations concerns about the project’s impact on the environment and the lack of consultation were not a factor in adjusting the development timeline, she said.  Black Thor is considered by Cliffs as a “tier one asset” with a proposed production rate of 600,000 tons of ferrochrome and one million tons of concentrate.”   Source   – moreCliffs investor presentation deck (PDF created 10 Sept 12) (alternat link for deck here )
  • Changes in the Cliffs’ Executive Team  “…. Joseph Carrabba, Cliffs’ chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, “I believe these changes reposition our senior team toward our most critical current and future business requirements. As we transition Cliffs’ strategic focus from M&A activities to executing organic growth projects, these executive changes will drive excellence in project execution, ensure operational stability and provide for a more disciplined approach to capital allocation and cost management.”   Reporting directly to Mr. Carrabba, Cliffs’ management appointments to its executive leadership team include these individuals, with the following responsibilities:   Laurie Brlas is named Executive Vice President & President — Global Operations. Ms. Brlas, formerly Cliffs’ executive vice president, finance and administration & chief financial officer, has operating responsibility for all minerals and other products that Cliffs produces. Ms. Brlas replaces Duncan P. Price, who will be retiring from the Company effective Oct. 1, 2012.  Ms. Brlas will build on her strength of disciplined large-scale project management and allow for prudent capital allocation and cost management particularly essential in the global economy. She will provide leadership for safety, capital projects, cost management, continuous improvement and information technology. Her new role will be accountable for all mining operations in the Company’s global portfolio of controlled iron ore and coal interests as well as leading emerging operating assets including development projects in iron ore and ferrochrome ….”  Source (company news release) – Copmpany SEC filing
  • “ Toll Road” Enters the Ring of Fire Lexicon  “The Ontario government has confirmed it is planning to help build and operate a pay-per-use road to connect the Ring of Fire mining development to the existing highway grid.  A government spokesperson told Wawatay News that the province is “committed to sharing the cost” of building an all-season road to the Ring of Fire, and that discussions continue over how Ontario plans to recoup its investment in the road.  “It could be a toll, it could be a monthly invoice,” Ministry of Northern Development and Mines spokesperson Andrew Morrison said of the pay-per-use plan for the access road. “It’s difficult to characterize how a payment system would work at this point.”  According to a Noront Resources press release on Sept. 4, Ontario has assured the mining industry that all industrial users would be permitted to use the access road, which was proposed as part of Cliffs’ Ring of Fire chromite project.  Noront also noted that the road plan involved some sort of toll for companies to pay-per-use.  “Our discussions with the province have confirmed that the all-season road will be accessible to all industrial users, including Cliffs, and that the costs to use the road will be based on proportional usage, a critical consideration for Noront as our concentrate shipments represent less than seven per cent of the currently identified ore haulage along the corridor,” Noront CEO Wes Hanson said in the release.  Following Noront’s release, Morrison noted that the proposed road would be solely for industrial users, for “developers to go in and get ore and minerals back out”. It would not connect to any First Nation communities, and residents of the region would not have access to the road.  Morrison said negotiations over revenue sharing for First Nations in regards to the road are ongoing.  The province has also requested that the federal government get involved in the Ring of Fire in some form, Morrison said.  A number of First Nations in the region have adamantly opposed construction of the road, including Aroland, Constance Lake and Neskantaga First Nations ….”  Source  – more  – more  – more
  • Ontario, Marten Falls First Nation Sign a Ring of Fire Deal  “Ontario and Marten Falls First Nation have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to realize the benefits of responsible mineral development in the Ring of Fire.  The memorandum of understanding, signed by Marten Falls First Nation Chief Eli Moonias, Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci and Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle in Marten Falls, represents a significant step toward a cooperative approach to mineral and resource development and related economic opportunities. Under the terms of the memorandum Marten Falls First Nation and the province will work together to address employment, economic development and environmental impacts.  Strengthening First Nations ‘communities while supporting a thriving mining sector is part of the McGuinty government’s plan to create jobs for Ontarians, create opportunities for First Nations’ communities and strengthen the economy ….”  Source (Ontario news release)Moremore from insupportofmining.wordpress.com
  • Noront Holds Marten Falls Open House in Thunder Bay (according to a Twitter post from on the company account):  “Noront Resources  ‏@NorontResources 18h Join us tonight at the Victoria Inn in TBAY for Marten Falls #FirstNation off reserve Open House 5-9pm #ringoffire 3:43 PM – 13 Sep 12″  Source
  • The Latest on Matawa’s Litigation  “It has been 10 months since Matawa First Nations filed a judicial review of the Ring of Fire Environmental Assessment process, but the review continues to be delayed by legal procedures.  Judith Rae, Matawa’s legal representative on the case, told Wawatay News that recent legal motions by both Cliffs Resources and the government of Canada have delayed the pre-hearing process in the case.  The latest delays come after Canada took longer than usual to provide information at the beginning of the legal action, said the lawyer with Olthius Kleer Townshed law firm.   In November 2011 Rae had estimated that the case would come before the courts in eight to 18 months, a timeline that seems overly optimistic at this point.   “Our initial timeline has been derailed by the motions by Cliffs and Canada, but the judicial review is still ongoing,” Rae said ….”  Source
  • Greenstone Flogging Itself as “Gateway” to the Ring of Fire  ” “More and more it is becoming clear that the Municipality of Greenstone is emerging as the gateway to the Ring of Fire.” These words were used by Greenstone Mayor, Renald Beaulieu, while briefing Councillors on recent developments concerning the Municipality.  The first development is the Noront Resources (NR) announcement that their “base case” is predicated on transporting Ring of Fire ore using the proposed North-South Corridor (with a southern terminus in Greenstone’s Nakina ward. The second is that the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is now considering an East of Lake Nipigon transmission corridor.   When commenting on NR’s decision to transport ore on the planned north-south road, the Mayor said, “For decades, Nakina was viewed as the end of the road, but increasingly it seems that Nakina, a proud part of Greenstone, will soon be seen as the start of the road.”   Adding greatly to the Mayor’s enthusiasm was the low key, yet pivotal, news that the Northwest Ontario First Nations Transmission Planning Committee (NOFNTPC) has been informed by the OPA that the OPA is now studying an East side of Lake Nipigon transmission line.  The proposed transmission line would supply the Ring of Fire and bring grid-connected electricity to First Nations such as Marten Falls. Mayor Beaulieu observed, “Transmission lines are like ribbons of prosperity.”  The East of Lake Nipigon route was a key feature of Greenstone’s “Kick Start for the Northwest” released in 2011 ….”  Source (alternate link here)
  • Editorial:  WAY More Trades Needed!  “Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario are perched on their most important opportunity of the modern era.   The mining boom surrounding the so-called Ring of Fire will ignite economic development of perhaps unprecedented proportions. Existing mines are already producing and exploration and development activities extend well beyond the Ring’s rich deposits in the James Bay lowlands.  Estimates of the worth of all this activity are only now being made and they will almost certainly be in the billions, both in terms of earnings and of tax revenue accruing to municipalities and the province — which desperately needs it.  All of this has caused communities across the North to think about how to share the wealth.  Sudbury won the initial prize — the smelter for chromite ore to be mined by Cliffs Natural Resources. But servicing all the rest that goes with a new batch of big mines means many opportunities for nearby First Nations, towns along the necessary transportation corridors and the City of Thunder Bay which already is a major service centre for mining and forestry. Cliffs has an office here for good reason.  The city has wasted no time in preparing for what’s coming. Its economic development office has established a Mining Readiness Strategy to prepare an integrated regional plan that it wants to explain at two public sessions next week — Monday at the Fort William First Nation and Tuesday at the Italian Cultural Centre.  An involved public is essential to this strategy. That has to include a working public prepared to take the thousands of jobs that will come with mining, moving and processing all that ore after building the mine sites and the road, rail and energy infrastructure that comes with a development of this size.  Are there enough skilled people in Thunder Bay and across the Northwest to do this work? Not a chance. But we could come a lot closer to filling these positions with a surge of new education ….”  Source 
  • (Not EXACTLY Ring of Fire, but) Ontario’s Superior Court Agrees to Consider Appeal in Case Highlighting Who Should Consult with First Nations on Mining Projects  “On September 4, 2012, the Ontario Superior Court granted leave to appeal an interim injunction obtained by a First Nation against an exploration company in Ontario, Solid Gold Resources Corp. (Solid Gold). In granting leave, the Court found that there was conflicting case law and good reason to doubt the correctness of the injunction motion decision.  Among other things, the Court was clearly of the view that neither Solid Gold, nor any other junior mining company, has a duty to consult with First Nations before commencing its exploration on traditional territory. Indeed, the Court seriously questioned whether even the Crown has a duty to consult in such situation given the free entry system provided under the current mining regime in Ontario.  Mr. Justice Wilton-Siegel found that the case raises important matters concerning the relationship among Aboriginal communities, industry and government that should be addressed on appeal. The Court’s decision has significant implications for the resource industry, First Nation communities and government.  Indeed, this decision clearly undermines the Province’s current approach to exploration in Ontario.  Absent a duty to consult, it would be extremely difficult for a First Nation to obtain injunctive relief against a proponent conducting exploration on traditional territory ….”   Source – September 4, 2012 decision

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1-14 Sept 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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