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Ring of Fire News – January 11, 2013

  • Too much constantly-changing news from the Idle No More protests and Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike/liquid fast to list in detail here – check here and here for the latest.
  • One item that did come up at the meeting between some Chiefs and the PM was resource revenue sharing.  “…. On the issue of resource revenue-sharing, (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John) Duncan said, “The federal government does not receive resource revenues, and so that’s a question that really will involve the provinces and that’s — that was recognized by the room.” ….”  Sourcemore (National Post column featuring PDAC president and former First Nation Chief Glenn Nolan) – more (The Canadian Press) – more on “resource revenue sharing” in the news here (Google News search “resource revenue sharing”)
  • A few threats  ” “It has the people and the numbers to bring the Canadian economy to its knees. It can stop Prime Minister Harper’s resource development plans.” – Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs – The “it” Chief Nepinak was referring to at his Thursday press conference in Ottawa is the Idle No More movement, and by extension the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence.  The Chief is the first to make it clear that Canadian First Nations politicians have found Stephen Harper’s Achille’s Heel.  The Prime Minister has staked his government on managing the economy, and more than anything else that means promoting investment and jobs in oil and gas, pipelines, mining and forestry. With manufacturing in decline in Ontario and Quebec, Canada is returning to its roots as a hewer of wood and drawer of water; the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers recently held an investment symposium in Toronto because oil sands producers plan to invest $60 billion in 2013 alone. Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver have said time and again that resource development will be the driver of the Canadian economy ….”  SourceMore (The Canadian Press)more (Wawatay News)
  • What’s Ontario’s Premier’s latest on resource revenue sharing?  “…. When asked this week about his vision for natural resource revenue sharing in Ontario, McGuinty said the Ring of Fire is “the most exciting mineral find in Canada in some 100 years and we’re using that opportunity right now on the ground.”  He hinted the government will make an announcement “in the not-too-distant future” about “how we can better ensure that our aboriginal communities are participating in the creation of this new wealth.”  “That starts frankly with building new capacity to invest not just in skills for the leadership but also skills for young aboriginals, youths, so they’ve got what it takes to participate in these new job opportunities.” ….”  Source (article on where Ontario Liberal leadership candidates to be the next premier stand on this)
  • And where do the Ontario Liberal leadership candidates stand on using ONTC to build a railway to the Ring of Fire?  “An initiative to revitalize the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) and build a rail link to the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario is gaining support among key stakeholders.  “It’s a win proposition for everybody. Not only in Northern Ontario, throughout the country,” said Brian Stevens, spokesperson for General Chairperson’s Association, which represents unionized employees at ONTC.  “Here’s an opportunity for both the provincial and federal governments to meet their policy objectives on a number of fronts.”   According to the provincial government, the Ring of Fire area offers “multi-generational potential of chromite production.” More than 20 companies hold claims in the area and have spent almost $300 million to date on exploration.  The New Deal for Northern Ontario, which recently launched a website by the same name, seeks to revitalize the ONTC by persevering transportation services, provide access to the Ring of Fire mineral deposits and preserve and create jobs.  The New Deal would transfer ownership of the provincially-held ONTC railroad and other assets to a new ports authority to be operated under the Canada Marine Act.  On March 23, 2012 the Ontario government announced its decision to divest the ONTC by tendering all assets of the corporation for sale to the private sector.  ONTC operated the Northlander passenger rail service between Toronto and Cochrane, which the government shut down on Sept. 28, 2012 due to increased costs to the government and stagnant ridership.  A growing number of Northern Ontario municipalities are directly in support of the New Deal or for a pause in the sell-off.  Some provincial Liberal leadership candidates have expressed similar support for action.  Candidate Harinder Takhar issued a policy statement calling for “divestiture of the ONTC to an independent, self-sustaining organization, and the development of a new rail line for the ‘Ring of Fire’ operations.”  Glen Murray has called on the government to pause its plan to divest the ONTC, while Gerard Kennedy is seeking a review of the sell-off decision and further examination of ONTC’s potential role in developing the Ring of Fire mineral deposits.  Charles Sousa supports “a sustainable, reliable ONTC that connects the North and supports jobs.”  The Liberal leadership convention will begin on Jan. 25.  “This is an opportunity for us to explain to them [candidates] and for the most part, we’ve been very encouraged,” said Stevens, adding that Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello are the only candidates who have not really reached out to them ….”  Source
  • Predictions for the new year from the In Support of Mining blog:  don’t count on (at least recent) history to necessarily be a guide  “…. At the start of a new year, it’s always entertaining to speculate on what we’ll see in the days ahead.  There are a few good bets — a continuing squeeze on juniors, more haggling over resource revenue sharing; further Ring of Fire delays; additional First Nations disputes; and so on. All the perennial favours  And on the larger stage, big-money forecasters also seem to favour more of the same – economic uncertainty, tight money and a grudging recovery characterized by constrained growth and market volatility.  Those are all safe guesses. But they are probably wrong.  In fact, 2013 has the feel of a year that will bring surprising developments. Not continuation of what went before, not just more of the same, but rather a massive, ground-shifting change.  There’s a smell of ozone in the air; a hint of rumble underfoot. Something is stirring on the horizon, and at this point it’s hard to say whether it’s a coming storm or an outbreak of sunshine.  In any event, efforts to extrapolate last year’s experiences into this year could prove to be very, very wrong ….”  Source
  • Mining Analyst Stan Sudol manages expectations a bit  “A mining observer and blogger predicts chromite production in the Ring of Fire may not begin until as late as 2020.  Stan Sudol said he believes the fragile global economy — along with challenges related to infrastructure and First Nations communities — will slow development of the mineral zone.  But there’s also an upside to a longer wait, he said.  “It gives us a little bit more time to decide exactly what type of transportation infrastructure would be the best for the Ring of Fire and how both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities could best take advantage of this enormous transformational opportunity,” Sudol said.  Cliffs Natural Resources, the biggest company operating in the Ring of Fire, currently has a target start date of 2016.  “Cliffs initially said they’re looking at 2016, but then there were some reports of 2017,” Sudol said.  “I think a safer bet would be 2019 [or] 2020.” …. In an e-mail to CBC News, a spokesperson for Cliffs called Sudol’s prediction about the mine’s start-up timeline and the company’s potential as a takeover target “pure speculation” on his part.  Director of global communications Pat Persico said it is Cliffs’ standard practice to not make statements responding to speculation, opinions or market rumours.  Nevertheless, that’s not stopping the mining observer from pondering the future of the mining project.  Sudol said plans to make Sudbury the location for a smelter connected to the Ring of Fire aren’t written in stone, as there’s still a chance a bigger company could take over Cliffs Natural Resources. He said if that were to happen, all plans would be re-assessed.  “Sudbury shouldn’t count its chromite eggs just yet,” Sudol said ….”  Source – more detail from Sudol in his predictions here
  • A 2012 reminder of what the Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation seems to be aiming for  “It is still much too early to judge Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno’s performance in the top job.  But the former Eabametoong chief earned his spot on the Wawatay honourable mention list by not only winning the grand chief election, but for immediately implementing his own tone to the work that NAN is doing.  Yesno took on six other candidates, including two sitting deputy grand chiefs, in a race that was pegged by many as being completely up in the air. When the Kashechewan dust finally settled, Yesno had a narrow victory over a Terry Waboose and a three-year term as grand chief.  In his first media conference, Yesno emphasized that protection of the lands will come “at any cost.”  “One thing is for sure, on the lands, its going to be all about protection,” Yesno said. “We’re not going to protest over our own lands. But people will protect their own lands.”  Despite those strong words, Yesno’s first few months on the job have been pretty quiet.  A number of themes have emerged during these first few months. Yesno is not against resource development. He regularly cites his economic development experience and the need to get communities involved in business. But he wants to make sure First Nations benefit, be it through resource-revenue sharing or improved economic benefit agreements.  In an open letter in October, Yesno laid out his vision of what First Nations are looking for in terms of resource development.  He focused on “fair and equitable” treatment of First Nations, including an opportunity to invest, develop partnerships and ownership of business development opportunities.  “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,” Yesno wrote ….”  Source
  • Some legal movement/clarification on duty to consult in free-entry mining regimes  “A recent decision by the Yukon Court of Appeal in Ross River Dena Council v. Government of Yukon 2012 YKCA 14 [“RRDC”], confirms that the Crown’s duty to consult applies to “free-entry” mining regimes. “Free-entry” systems are found in a number of legislative regimes, including Yukon’s Quartz Mining Act, S.Y. 2003, c. 14 and applicable regulations, and until recent amendments, Ontario’s Mining Act R.S.O. 1990, c. M-14, and applicable regulations. Under “free-entry” regimes prospectors can apply to the Crown to register mining claims on Crown land. Once mining claims are registered, the regime authorizes prospectors to subsequently carry out exploratory drilling on those claims. The regimes do not provide the Crown with any discretion in determining whether to register mining claims once a prospector has submitted an application, and no further Crown authorization is necessary in order for the prospector to carry out exploration activities ….”  SourceYukon Court of Appeal decsion
  • (Not Ring of Fire, but worth noting)  A warning that sometimes, it only takes one person/radical/extremist/idiot/hero/whatever to make a pretty significant impact – this story from Australia  ” Media outlets that published the press release that caused Whitehaven Coal’s share price to plummet could face a malicious falsehood suit if it’s determined they knew it was a fake, a media expert has claimed.  Whitehaven Coal has rejected reports that a media outlet published the press release after contacting the company and confirming the information it contained was false.  Even so, the incident casts a spotlight on media liability in facilitating a hoax that has serious market repercussions, according to media lawyer Justine Munsie (pictured), a partner at Sydney-based Addisons Lawyers.  The ANZ-branded release claimed the bank had withdrawn $1.2 billion in funding from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek project. Media outlets began reporting on the release on Monday (7 January) and investors responded by dumping stock, which caused the share price to plummet by 31 cents.  Munsie told Lawyers Weekly that Whitehaven could launch a malicious falsehood claim against media outlets that published the release when they knew it was untrue.  “Malicious falsehood is the most likely source of redress,” she said ….”  Sourcemore on the story (Google News search)

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 14 Dec 12 – 11 Jan 13 (30 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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