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Cliffs ROF Environmental Assessment on Hold

  • Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced today that its affiliate, Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc., is temporarily suspending the environmental assessment activities for its Chromite Project in Ontario, Canada. The Company indicated that its decision to temporarily suspend these activities is due to delays related to the environment assessment process, land surface rights, and negotiations with the Province of Ontario.  “While most aspects of the Chromite Project have advanced according to plan, temporarily suspending the environmental assessment work acknowledges that certain critical elements of the project’s future are not solely within our control and require the active support and participation by other interested parties such as government agencies and impacted First Nation communities,” said Bill Boor, senior vice president – global ferroalloys for Cliffs. “We remain excited about this project and its potential for Cliffs and Northern Ontario; however, given the current unresolved issues, we cannot and will not unilaterally move the process forward and must manage our resources appropriately.”   The Company cited that the following open issues are impeding the progress of the project’s environmental assessment process, as well as the Feasibility Study evaluation:
    •     Delayed approval of the Terms of Reference for the provincial Environmental Assessment (EA) process.
    •     Uncertainty regarding the federal EA process due to the current judicial challenge by a number of the impacted First Nations.
    •     Unresolved land surface rights issues following a February 2013 Mining and Land Commissioner hearing.
    •     Unfinished agreements with the Government of Ontario that are critical to the project’s economic viability.

    “In a practical sense, we’ve taken the EA and other project work as far as possible without resolution of these issues,” said Mr. Boor. “Although  we are temporarily suspending our EA activities, we will continue our work with the Government of Ontario and First Nation communities and look forward to restarting the work on the EA when we are collectively ready to make this project a reality.”  As previously disclosed, Cliffs indicated that before it can advance the project, the Company must receive provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals, negotiate mutually acceptable agreements with impacted First Nation communities, work with governments to address the lack of infrastructure in the Ring of Fire and complete its commercial and technical feasibility studies  ….”

  • The Canadian Press  Mining development in the Ring of Fire region in remote northern Ontario has hit another snag.  Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:CLF) says it is calling a temporary halt to its environmental assessment activities for a major chromite mine in the area.  The company says the suspension is due to delays related to the environmental process, land surface rights and negotiations with the Ontario government about building infrastructure in the fly-in-only region.  Senior vice-president Bill Boor says the company is talking to the provincial government and First Nations from the area in the hopes of eventually restarting the environmental assessment ….”
  • CBC.ca  “Cliffs Natural Resources announced Wednesday it’s putting the brakes on environmental assessment work for its chromite project in the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario.  The company is citing delays with government environmental assessments, land surface rights issues and negotiations with the province as problems to advancing its work on the mine, which is located in the James Bay lowlands.  Cliffs said it will resume activity when all parties are “collectively ready to make this project a reality.” ….”
  • Globe and Mail  “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.’s decision to temporarily halt the feasibility work on its $3.4-billion (U.S.) chromite mining project in the remote Ring of Fire region of Northern Ontario may have an upside for the company.  The Cleveland-based iron ore giant says it is suspending environmental-assessment activities because of delays related to several issues, including land rights, unfinished agreements with the Ontario government and uncertainty over the federal environmental review in light of legal challenges by First Nation bands ….”
  • Financial Post  “The message from Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. couldn’t be any clearer: until crucial issues involving Queen’s Park and First Nations groups are resolved, development of the Ring of Fire is not going anywhere.  The Cleveland-based miner halted all environmental assessment (EA) work on the mega-project on Wednesday, saying it cannot go any farther because of delays that are outside its control.  “It feels like the only thing we can do,” Bill Boor, Cliffs’ senior vice president of ferroalloys, said in an interview. “The company can only drive the project so far without other people keeping up with us.”  Cliffs wants to build the first of what could be many mines in the Ring of Fire, a vast resource in Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands that could hold as much as $50-billion of minerals. Both the provincial and federal governments have stressed that developing the region is a priority.  But Cliffs cited a number of unresolved issues that forced it to suspend environmental work. They include a delay in provincial approval for the EA process, an ongoing judicial challenge to the process by First Nations groups, unresolved land surface rights covering a proposed road to the project, and the lack of definitive agreements with the Ontario government ….”
  • tbnewswatch.com  “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. has suspended its environmental assessment activities in the Ring of Fire.  The U.S.-based company, in a release issued Wednesday morning, says the temporary decision was brought about because of delays “related to the environmental assessment process, land surface rights and negotiations with the province of Ontario.” ….”
  • Sudbury Star  “Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc. is temporarily suspending its environmental assessment activities in the Ring of Fire area.  The company said the decision is due to delays with the environment assessment process, land surface rights and negotiations with the province of Ontario.  Bill Boor, senior vice president – global ferroalloys for Cliffs, said the company realises many some elements of the development process is out of their hands ….”
  • miningweekly.com  “US diversified miner Cliffs Natural Resources on Wednesday suspended environmental assessment activities for its $3.3-billion chromite project in Ontario’s mineral-rich north, citing stalled negotiations and delays to the assessment process among the reasons for its decision.  Cliffs and it subsidiary Cliffs Chromite Ontario, which was working to develop the Black Thor mine in the muskeg-like wastelands of the north – where no roads, reliable power or other infrastructure existed yet – said the decision to temporarily suspend development activities was the result of delays related to the environment assessment process, land surface rights, and negotiations with the Ontario government, and not as a result of the bear market.  “We remain excited about this project and its potential for Cliffs and Northern Ontario; however, given the current unresolved issues, we cannot and will not unilaterally move the process forward and must manage our resources appropriately,” Cliffs global ferroalloys senior VP Bill Boor said ….”
  • Reuters (1)  “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc said it was temporarily stopping environmental assessment for its $3.3 billion chromite project in northwestern Ontario due to unresolved land rights and unfinished agreements with the provincial government.  Cliffs, primarily an iron ore and coal producer, plans to develop North America’s first major chromite mine in a remote cluster of rich mineral deposits called the ‘Ring of Fire’.  Chromite is refined into ferrochrome, which is used to make stainless steel. The project includes a $600 million highway.  “… Given the current unresolved issues, we cannot and will not unilaterally move the process forward and must manage our resources appropriately,” Bill Boor, senior vice president for global ferroalloys, said on Wednesday ….”
  • Reuters (2)  “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc said on Wednesday it was suspending work on its $3.3 billion chromite-mining project in northwestern Ontario, a move that dimmed hopes for development of the region’s mineral-rich Ring of Fire.      Cliffs attributed the delay to stalled talks with the Ontario provincial government and on other political and regulatory problems.  It was far from clear that the company would be able to revive the project, called Black Thor, given the low iron ore prices that are pressuring it operations elsewhere.     “It’s hard to see why Cliffs would undertake a project of this magnitude when its core business, the source of all of its cash flow, is withering,” said Morningstar analyst Daniel Rohr.     He said Cliffs would likely not have had the capital to go ahead with Black Thor even if infrastructure and regulatory issues had been resolved ….”
  • In Support of Mining blog  “Ring of Fire skeptics may expected it for months, but this morning’s news still felt like a bucket of cold water.  Cliffs Natural Resources has announced it is halting environmental assessment activities for its proposed chromite project in the province’s remote north until several major obstacles are cleared from its path …. So…what’s next? Is this a rude awakening from a foolish dream? Or a cooling spritz that may clear our heads and focus our resolve? ….”
  • NDP MPP news release  ” NDP Northern Development and Mines Critic Michael Mantha says government mismanagement of the Ring of Fire could cost Ontario thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in economic growth.  “The announcement from Cliffs Natural Resources that they are suspending their environmental assessment is a clear sign of just how badly the Wynne government is handling this important development, and Northern growth in general,” said Mantha. “The Ring of Fire has the potential to be a massive economic driver for decades to come, and the Liberal government is dropping the ball every step of the way.”  Cliffs Resources says a number of key issues have forced them to halt progress, including delayed approval of their provincial environmental assessment process and “unfinished agreements with the Government of Ontario that are critical to the project’s economic viability.”  “Liberals are playing politics with the future of the economy in Northern Ontario and the rest of the province,” said Mantha. “The government should take the lead on the environmental assessment process. Instead, they’ve shifted responsibility to industry and created a system that has sidelined local First Nations and nearby communities, while creating further delays.” ….”

 

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