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Ring of Fire News – October 27, 2012

  • How did Cliffs do in Q3?  “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. has reported a sharp drop in third-quarter results from the like period last year amid a big decline in iron ore prices.  The Cleveland-based producer of iron ore and metallurgical coal said its net income in the quarter fell 86%, to $85 million, or 59 cents a share, from $601 million, or $4.15 a share, in the third quarter of 2011.  Revenues at Cliffs slid 26%, to $1.5 billion from $2.1 billion.  Cliffs said the drop in revenue primarily was driven by a 36% decrease in year-over-year pricing for seaborne iron ore. Because of the price decline, Cliffs has reduced its anticipated full-year income from continuing operations.   Due to the company’s revised outlook, Cliffs is decreasing its expectations for full-year 2012 cash flow from operations to $600 million, down more than half from its previous expectation of $1.3 billion. Cliffs said it’s maintaining its previously disclosed 2012 capital expenditures budget of $1 billion. “  Source Cliffs Quarterly ReportTranscript of media conference call between Cliffs execs and industry analystsmore in the excerpts summary linked at the bottom of this post
  • Cliffs Holds Environmental Assessment Open House in Thunder Bay  “Cliffs Natural Resources is hoping to have the environmental assessment on its proposed chromite mine in the Ring of Fire approved by mid 2014.  Still in the early stages of that EA, the resource development company held an open house Wednesday evening at the Airlane hotel outlining the assessment process and giving an overview of the project.  “We’re working to complete the provincial planning documents, which are called the terms of reference, and we’re starting to do the environmental assessment where we compare the existing environment with the projected project impacts,” said Jason Aagenes, director of environmental affairs for Cliffs Ferroalloys.  “We’ll also look at ways to reduce, eliminate or mitigate any negative impacts,” he added.  Cliffs have held a number of open houses in municipalities and First Nations across Northern Ontario during the process of trying to get the mine up and running, and Aagenes said they encourage the public to come out to get familiar with the project and offer their input.  Most of the questions they receive are about the environmental impacts of the proposed mine and the job opportunities available.  “The main purpose for open houses like this is making sure we have a fulsome and inclusive environmental assessment,” Aagenes said.  Cliffs is aiming to submit the EA by mid-2013 and hope its approved the following year.”  Sourcemore
  • Sudbury-area First Nation Working with Cliffs on Refinery  “Members of Wahnapitae First Nation regard plans by Cliffs Natural Resources to build a chromite smelter just 20 kilo-metres from their border as an opportunity.  But the president of the Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association, a Wahnapitae First Nation member, says they also view the plant as a threat.  That’s why the First Nation, and the Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association, are working with Cliffs on a baseline environmental review of the project, getting involved on the ground floor.  Hans Matthews has been a member of his First Nation’s Mining Industry Working Group for a decade and president since the beginning of the association, which will mark its 20th anniversary with a conference in Toronto next month …. Matthews made it clear this week that Wahnapitae First Nation hasn’t given its seal of approval to Cliffs’ plan to build a $1.8-billion processing plant next door at the former Moose Mountain Mine site, north of Capreol.  Members are getting as informed and involved as they can before deciding anything.  “We don’t want to be at the tail end of the research,” Matthews said in an interview this week. “We want to be at the front end of the research.”  In no way, said Matthews, has his community “indicated our support for the project until we both walk down the path together and review it.” ….”  Source
  • More on the “Save the Railway” Plan (1)  “The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission’s unionized workers have thrown their support behind a “New Deal” proposal that aims to revitalize the provincially owned agency while providing rail access to Ontario’s rich Ring of Fire mineral deposits.  The proposal would see ownership of ONTC’s rail and other assets transferred to a new ports authority that would be operated under the Canada Marine Act.  In a Monday release, the General Chairperson’s Association, which represents five ONTC unions, said about 530 current employees and a number of retirees endorsed the New Deal proposal at meetings last weekend in North Bay, Timmins, Cochrane and Englehart …. “  Source
  • More on the “Save the Railway” Plan (2)  Nipissing-Timiskaming Tory MP Jay Aspin mentions the idea in the House of Commons  “Northern Ontario Port Authority – Mr. Jay Aspin (Nipissing—Timiskaming, CPC):   Mr. Speaker, last Friday in North Bay, I was pleased to join the General Chairperson’s Association, the employees of Ontario Northland, and the municipalities and native councils of Northern Ontario to unveil a clear far-sighted proposal to develop a new federal port authority and a new deal for Northern Ontario.  The proposal will create jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. It will improve the transportation infrastructure of Northern Ontario and be funded by the wealth extraction of the vast mineral resources of the Ring of Fire.  This visionary proposal is all about Northern Ontarians developing long-term solutions for Northern Ontarians for the benefit of Northern Ontarians.  Indeed, I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends, neighbours and fellow northerners to further this plan, which is crucial to the future of our region. In simple terms, a stronger Northern Ontario means a stronger Canada. We will all benefit from that.”  Source (Hansard)
  • Neskantaga Seeks Mediation over Mining, Transport Route in Ring of Fire  “Neskantaga First Nation is requesting mediation to resolve differences between the environmental assessment it wishes to see for Cliffs’ Ring of Fire mine, and the assessment process the company has proposed.  In a letter to Ontario’s Minister of Environment Jim Bradley dated Sept. 27, Neskantaga called on Bradley to refer Cliffs’ terms of reference to mediation.  “Our constitutionally protected aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights are not appropriately addressed in the terms of reference,” Neskantaga wrote. “Therefore, numerous fundamental issues of concern arise on the terms of reference as submitted. It is our strong view that these should be addressed in a mediation between Neskantaga and…Cliffs.”  Neskantaga’s legal council Greg McDade of Ratcliff and Co. LLP told Wawatay News that as of Oct. 19, the minister had not yet responded to the request.  Under Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act, the minister has the ability to refer a terms of reference to a mediator if requested.   McDade said the decisions made at this point of the environmental assessment will determine how much conflict comes later in the process.  “The terms of reference really sets the stage for the whole environmental review,” McDade said. “First Nations have sought a seat at the table, arguing that they should be part of the decision making process. Unless that gets set up now, this environmental assessment cannot possibly succeed.”  Alex Blasko, special projects officer with the Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, said the minister is “carefully reviewing the request before making a decision.”  Blasko said the minister will take into account a number of factors in his decision, including the willingness of parties to participate in a mediation process, if there have been other attempts to resolve the matter outside of mediation and if the issues involved are clearly defined and negotiable.  Blasko added that the ministry “encourages proponents to consider all methods of resolving disputes and addressing outstanding concerns.”  “Comprehensive consultation is vital to the environmental assessment process and proponents must fully consult with the public and First Nations communities during the planning and development of a project,” Blasko said ….”  Source 
  • New Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno on Resource Revenue Sharing, Changes to the Mining Act  “In July of 1905, when the treaty commissioners began the process of securing signatures to the James Bay Treaty 9, Chief Missabay and his men at Mishkeegogamang signed the treaty only after he had determined that nothing but good was intended.  Resource development across the NAN territory (encompassing James Bay Treaties 9 and 5) will put the treaties to the test. The future for the families, people and communities of Nishnawbe Aski Nation is to participate in the economy and wealth that is contained within the lands and resources that surrounds us.  It has always been known by the people of NAN that one day Ontario will be on our doorstep because the place we call home holds tremendous value and potential.  However, today the Province of Ontario has made significant changes in terms of legislation and policy with the passing of The Far North Act, amendments to the Mining Act, and now engaging First Nations on the Renewable Energy on Crown Land Policies.  These mechanisms deal with the land, minerals and energy — all key factors in ensuring that Ontario is being positioned for growth, and perhaps what experts believe is the economic boom that will come out of the NAN territory.  It is the duty of the Crown — the governments of Canada and Ontario — to ensure that First Nations treaty and aboriginal rights, as well as the duty to consult, are addressed. The current approach encouraged by both governments for industry to be responsible for these matters is not acceptable …. Our treaty partners, Canada and Ontario, have it within their power to level the playing field and ensure that economic growth includes First Nations. A meaningful way for these governments to recognize their treaty obligations is resource revenue sharing. This would mean more to First Nations and the dignity of our people than any impact benefit agreement.   The 49 Chiefs of Nishnawbe Aski Nation each have a vision of the future for their communities. First Nations are invested in Northern Ontario permanently. The desire for our communities to succeed in business and provide a better future for our people is one of the most urgent pressures facing most chiefs today.  The result of true partnership and the test of our treaties — Canada, Ontario, First Nations and industry working together — will be what we call Implementation of the Treaty. It is living together here on this land as what was intended for all of us — to share in the benefits and prosper together.”  Source(op-ed also available here if “Source” link doesn’t work)
  • (Not Exactly Ring of Fire, but) Junior Mining Company Massively Underwhelmed at Changes to Mining Act Regulations  “Solid Gold Resources Corp. reports that new regulations obligating proponents to consult with potentially affected Aboriginal communities before conducting exploration activities in Ontario are scheduled to come into force on November 1, 2012.   “These rules result in a total transfer of all Natural Resources to the control of hostile third party governments. It is my opinion that Canadians must do everything possible to stop this ill-conceived race-based initiative”, stated Darryl Stretch, president of the company …. How could conflict resolution be fairly adjudicated by the government without fundamental legal definition engrained in statute? Debate in the legislature on bullying should fully canvass the government’s behavior in this case. It is plain that Ontario is mired in an impossible conflict and has proven itself incapable of non-biased action to protect Canada’s sovereignty and Solid Gold’s statutory right to access and to explore its recorded mineral claims without interference.   Mr. Stretch has accepted an invitation to speak on these and other matters, such as the Government’s “revenue-sharing scheme” at 10 AM, November 7, 2012 at the Ontario Prospectors Symposium in Sudbury, Ontario ….”  Sourcemore from the In Support of Mining blog

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1-26 Oct 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 materil, and inclusion of material doesn’t mean endorsement.

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