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Ring of Fire News – November 10, 2012

  • Cliffs “Clarifies” (Potential?) Delay (Slippage?) in Project  “The timelines for Cliffs Natural Resources to develop a chromite mining project in the James Bay lowlands still remain somewhat murky. Bill Boor, Cliffs’ senior vice-president of global ferroalloys, spoke to a Sudbury Chamber of Commerce lunchtime crowd Nov. 6 to outline progress on the massive $3.3-billion Black Thor mine and Capreol furnace project, and also to tamp down reports that the Ohio miner’s development timelines are slipping by one year. Boor maintains that the company is still shooting for a late-2016 start-up for mining operations, despite earlier comments by his CEO, Joseph Carrabba, that cost pressures and volatile markets could push back the start-up of production to 2017. “My simple answer is, it depends,” said Boor on the project scheduling. “A lot of things have to go right for this to happen.” In an Oct. 25 third-quarter conference call with analysts, Carrabba said the company is curbing capital spending and is holding off on early site construction at the remote location in the so-called Ring of Fire until a detailed feasibility study is finished next summer. While Cliffs believes Black Thor has great long-term potential, Carrabba said uncertain global economics and volatile commodity prices, particularly the sharp decline in prices of iron ore — Cliffs’ bread and butter commodity — has the company taking a serious re-evaluation of the project in its 2013 business plan. “This includes delaying the major capital spending outlays and could push the production target date beyond 2017,” Carrabba told analysts. In an interview, Boor categorized Carrabba’s comments as a “misstatement” that were later clarified. Key challenges remain for Cliffs in striking a power agreement with Ontario, developing better relations with First Nations in the Far North, and sourcing the capital to invest in vital transportation infrastructure. “Right now, the target remains 2016 and it’s a schedule that’s got some risk of slippage,” Boor told the crowd ….”  Sourcemoremoremore
  • City of Thunder Bay Not Worried about Cliffs Project Yet  “The head of mining services with Thunder Bay’s Economic Development Commission says he’s not panicking over news that a Ring of Fire mining project may be delayed even further. Earlier this year Cliffs Natural Resources announced it was pushing back the targeted start date for production on its Black Thor deposit to the end of 2016. Now, an official with the company says the production target date could be moved into 2017 or beyond, as Cliffs looks to reduce capital spending. The chromite project was originally slated to begin production in 2015 but now has a floating timeline. Cliffs is also a major player in iron ore and other commodities that have been taking a hit. The company’s stock and bottom line have been battered as of late. John Mason is the head of mining services with the CEDC. He says he’s not concerned about Cliffs moving the start-up dates back, and feels the company is just being cautious. Cliffs feasibility study on its Black Thor chromite project is expected to be complete by mid-2013.  A company spokesperson says in the meantime, they will explore the option of taking on a partner for the project.”  Source
  • Assembly of First Nations Stands Behind Matawa on Ring of Fire, Prescription Drug Abuse  “Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo was in Neskantaga First Nation today, along with AFN Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno for the Matawa First Nations Back to Our Roots Gathering III.  The Gathering is the third of its kind, bringing together Matawa Chiefs, Elders, and front line health workers to address prescription drug abuse and misuse in the community, which has increased as a result of increased development, exclusion from resource extraction, and existing third world conditions in the north.  This year’s gathering is focused on showcasing successful community-based programs and initiatives focused on recovery and aftercare.   The Back to Our Roots Gathering takes place at a time when Matawa communities face increased pressure from resource development within their traditional territories and homelands.  National Chief Atleo today reiterated support for Matawa Chiefs as they continue to assert their rights to be fully engaged prior to development in their territory currently sighted for chromite mine development known as Ring of Fire.   “I continue to stand in support of Matawa Chiefs, and all First Nations asserting their rights to choose their own path – based on the clear principle of free, prior and informed consent as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.  “First Nation lands hold tremendous potential, and this potential can only be fully unleashed through adequate recognition and respect of First Nation rights, Treaties and the full participation of our peoples.  Meaningful consultation[and accommodation, and free, prior and informed consent means engaging up front and support for environmental and economic sustainability and self-sufficiency.  This also means our fair share of any revenues generated.” ….”    Source
  • Mining Company-Aboriginal Relations (1)  “A junior mining company that called First Nations “hostile third-party governments” has raised the ire of indigenous leaders across Ontario. Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) and Wahgoshig First Nation (links to statements) called on the Ontario government to withdraw its support of “racist and radical” industry representatives during a press conference in Sudbury Nov. 7. The chiefs targeted Mining United, a group of junior exploration companies, and the Ontario Prospectors Association (OPA). “Representatives of this radical association of junior mining groups has waged a racist media campaign against the Wahgoshig First Nation, who are taking a legal and principled position to defend their Treaty and Aboriginal rights, as well as ensuring that Ontario meets its obligations on ‘the duty to consult’ in good faith,” said NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno in a press release. “The Province of Ontario and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines continue to send a misguided message to First Nations by supporting this group.” At the heart of the controversy is the land dispute between Solid Gold Resources and Wahgoshig. The dispute has come before the courts since the company started an exploration program on Wahgoshig’s traditional lands in 2011 without the First Nation’s knowledge or support. While the first judge to hear the case ruled in favour of Wahgoshig, Solid Gold is expected to bring it before an appeals court in the coming months. Fanning the controversy, Solid Gold CEO Darryl Stretch issued a press release on Oct. 22 saying that Ontario’s new mining act is handing control of natural resources to “hostile third-party governments” in the form of First Nations. “It is my opinion that Canadians must do everything possible to stop this ill-conceived race-based initi-ative,” Stretch said in the release. Stretch predicted that the new mining act will result in an “overflow” of First Nations versus industry conflicts coming before the courts. “It is plain that Ontario 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,”  the company’s press release states. Stretch presented his views to the 2012 Ontario Exploration and Geoscience Symposium in Sudbury Nov. 7 …. First Nations leaders also took issue with comments made by Garry Clarke, executive directory of the OPA, who told the Globe and Mail that some people in the industry were “happy” with Solid Gold’s hard-line stance on consultation. “I do not believe that reasonable Ontarians and responsible mining industry members support the activities and statements made by these representatives. It just makes it that much more difficult to have a positive working relationship,” said Ontario Regional Grand Chief Stan Beardy in a statement. The chiefs are calling on Ontario to withdraw its public support of the OPA and to remove Clarke as an advisor to the province’s department of Northern Development and Mines.”  Source
  • Mining Company-Aboriginal Relations (2)  “Batchewana First Nation disappointed with Ontario Prospector’s Association …. Batchewana First Nation’s Natural Resource department attended the Ontario Prospectors Association’s (OPA) Exploration and Geoscience Symposium on November 7, 2012 where these changes to the Mining Act came under fire.  Solid Gold Resources Corporation President and CEO, Darryl Stretch presented a slide show titled, Deathwatch of the Resource Industry, making claims that the Ontario Government has set mining back to the Stone Age. Stretch went on to say, when referencing Indigenous Peoples, “It is every man for himself against 133 hostile third-party governments across the country.” Stretch’s presentation included offensive cartoons, absurd comparisons, and irrelevant quotes all of which ironically conveyed the archaic principles of the Solid Gold Resources Corporation. The demeaning presentation was a surprise to Symposium organizers who were unaware of the content due to the fact that the OPA does not have a screening process for presenters. Batchewana First Nation attendees submitted a complaint to the Executive Director, Garry Clark of the OPA and requested a formal statement of apology ….” Source
  • Mining Company-Aboriginal Relations (3)   “The Ontario Prospectors Association says it wants to meet with high-ranking aboriginal leaders to clear the air after it was accused this week of supporting “radical and racist” tactics at a Sudbury exploration conference. “We believe there has been a total misunderstanding about this, and we want to sit down and talk with NAN (Nishnawbe Aski Nation),” OPA executive-direct Garry Clark said Thursday from Sudbury. Clark, who is based in Thunder Bay, emphasized that his organization is anything but racist, and said he was taken aback by the allegation. “We’re an organization that promotes the province as a place for (mineral) exploration,” he said, noting the Sudbury conference included presentations by aboriginal representatives. About $1 billion worth of mining exploration occurred in Ontario last year, “mostly conflict-free,” among companies and First Nations, Clark added ….”  Sourcealternate if previous link doesn’t work
  • Mining Company-Aboriginal Relations (4)  “The president of a mining company in the middle of a dispute with an aboriginal group in Northern Ontario said he feels he is being “extorted” by the Wahgoshig First Nation. Darryl Stretch said his company, Solid Gold Resources Corporation, has made a high grade gold discovery near Lake Abitibi in 2011, but can’t explore any further due to a court order. The Wahgoshig First Nation filed an injunction against Solid Gold to stop its exploration on land they claim treaty rights over, at least until the two groups can come to an agreement. Solid Gold won a court ruling allowing it to appeal the original injunction decision. That case will be heard in January. The root of the dispute can perhaps be traced back to a 2004 Supreme Court of Canada decision that said the crown had a “duty to consult” with native groups when an activity had the potential to affect treaty rights. The federal government updated its guidelines for federal officials to “fulfill the duty to consult.” “Third parties, such as industry groups, do not have a legal obligation to consult aboriginal groups,” Updated Guidelines for Federal Officials to Fulfill the Duty to Consult, says. “The Crown may delegate to companies such aspects of consultation as the gathering of information about the impact of the proposed project on the potential or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights.” “The Crown should clearly communicate what is expected of third parties to industry proponents, aboriginal groups and various stakeholders. Ontario’s new mining legislation includes measures to ensure that proponents consider Aboriginal consultation.” However, Stretch said no restrictions were placed on his exploration when he signed a contract with the province. “The Crown gave me the rights to the mineral on that land without any encumbrances.  We could have worked anywhere in the world, but we worked here because we liked the contract we were entering with Ontario. We don’t like it anymore,” Stretch said. When reached for comment, a representative from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines said government officials could not comment since the matter is still before the courts …. Stretch, however, said he sees the duty to consult has just a way for First Nations to make demands on industry. “The First Nations use the proposition that they require consultation and accommodation. That means ‘get over here, get consent and then pay me’.  hat’s what it means. You can make all kinds of legal arguments about it, but that’s what it means. “As far as I can see, if anybody is going to do any paying, it’s going to be the Crown, not me personally,” Stretch said, adding: “The fact is, if mining companies are suddenly forced by the Crown to serve a second master other than the Crown, all Canadians have a great big problem here.” ….”  Source
  • Mining Company-Aboriginal Relations (5)  “Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Mines says the updated version of its mining act offers clear, progressive guidance about Aboriginal consultation as it relates to mineral exploration activities. However, in a recent statement about Aboriginal consultation and mineral exploration, Rick Bartolucci did not comment on a recent accusation by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation that a junior mining company made borderline racist comments. Bartolucci’s statement didn’t mention the First Nation or mining company involved, but pointed out that, since 2006, the province has worked diligently to promote collaboration between industry and Aboriginal communities. He also said there are numerous examples where First Nations people and industry have formed successful partnerships …. Solid Gold CEO Darryl Stretch …. said he’s disturbed by allegations of racism against him and his company. He noted the government is responsible for granting mining claims to companies and Stretch said he still hasn’t heard anything from the province. “It is disheartening when the argument apparently is reduced to calling names,” Stretch said. “And I find that rather disappointing. I guess I’m most disappointed that we’re not hearing anything from  the government on these matters.” “ Source (includes copy of Minister’s statement) – more
  • Industry Observer/Analyst with Good, Bad and “Very, Very” Ugly on Changes to Ontario’s Mining Act  “…. So let’s start with some of the good news. There is a new on-line Mining Act Awareness Program that sooner or later every current and new explorer will have to take. A non-issue! First Nations communities are now able to withdraw sites of Aboriginal significance so mining claims cannot be staked. This is a terrific idea eliminating potential conflict. MNDM will also be conducting 44 workshops in strategically located in Aboriginal communities to help educate communities about the mineral sector. Individuals or companies can now rehabilitate existing mine hazards they did not create and not be liable for pre-existing environmental issues.  Plans are also in the works to provide funding for Aboriginal Mineral Technical Officers who will be located in First Nations communities to deal with plans and permit applications. However, they have not decided on the number, and due to resource constraints, I fear too few will be hired. Now let’s get to the bad and very, very ugly issues. You will now be expected to fill out exploration plans and exploration permits that will highlight your activities over the next two and three years respectively. These plans and permits will be vetted by First Nations, surface rights owners and the general public. In a perfect world, if no problems arise, it will take 30 or 50 days to get approval for these plans and permits. If there are problems, be prepared for significant and costly delays. And what is to prevent environmental groups from using this process to needlessly delay exploration activities that have very low impact on the environment ….”  Source
  • Colleges Collaborate on Resource, Other Training Programs  “Confederation College signed a Memorandum of Understanding today creating a partnership with Northern College in Timmins, Collège Boréal in Sudbury and Fleming College located in Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes. The agreement reinforces a collaborative approach to delivering programs in environmental and the natural resources fields. The agreement enhances the scope of learning opportunities and supports to residents and communities of northern Ontario. It paves the way for cooperative programming that is jointly delivered and designed to minimize the need for students to physically transfer colleges to graduate. The four colleges are committed to developing collaborative opportunities and will share information such as best practices in teaching and learning, organizational sustainability and community engagement. It also provides an opportunity to share curriculum, courses and programming tools. “By combining our resources, we are able to provide a broader range of options for students pursuing a career in the environment and natural resources fields” said Confederation College President Jim Madder. “This collaborative approach enhances opportunities for students to further their education and prepare them for employment.” Fleming College President, Tony Tilly was at Confederation College to sign the agreement. “We are excited to bring to the partnership our strength in 25 environmental and natural resource sciences programs. At Fleming College, we are always looking for ways to break down barriers to learning. This new agreement advances our shared goal of ensuring the best, most progressive learning experience possible for students from across Ontario” said Tilly. The Presidents from Northern College and Collège Boréal participated in today’s signing via video. “One of the hallmarks of Northern College is our commitment to collaboration with other institutions,” said Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “We truly espouse the ideals of ongoing partnerships and look forward to finding new ways to better serve our students and our communities.” ….”  Sourcemoremore
  • Sun Media Queen’s Park Columnist:  North Screwed AGAIN!  “The government of Premier Dalton McGuinty hammered one more nail into the coffin of Northern Ontario recently, when the Ontario Power Authority decided to back away from the conversion of the Thunder Bay coal-burning power plant to natural gas.  Critics say the OPA’s decision makes development of the “Ring of Fire” — a remote part of the northwest that’s rich in mineral deposits — almost impossible. The decision comes hard on the heels of other northern blunders, such as the Far North Act, which put half the land north of the 51st parallel — an area about the size of Britain — out of bounds for development. Then they shut down the Ontario Northland Transportation Corp. (ONTC) rail service, a move that will devastate small communities and stifle economic growth. Cancelling the conversion of the power plant is a further blow to the northern economy …. The Thunder Bay area will need 684 megawatts of additional electricity to supply new mines in Red Lake and the Ring of Fire, says a spokesman for the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission. The north relies on a great deal of hydro generation from water, but that may not be reliable. “If we run into significant dry seasons, we may be challenged to have significant output from those facilities,” said John Mason. “We see the Thunder Bay generating plant as an important asset and potentially required going forward as a part of the whole energy mix,” he said. Between nine and 13 new mines are coming online between now and 2017, as well as old ones that are expanding that have substantial power requirements. The transmission line the government is planning won’t be complete until 2017 and the projects are coming on line before that ….”  Source

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 1-9 Nov 12 (21 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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