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Ring of Fire News – October 31, 2013

  • A reminder:  if you live where you have to turn back clocks in the fall, remember to “fall back” this weekend.
  • As a new guy comes in to head up Cliffs Natural Resources  “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced (25 Oct 13) that its Board of Directors has appointed Gary B. Halverson, 55, formerly interim chief operating officer of Barrick Gold Corporation Inc., to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer, effective Nov. 18, 2013.  In addition, he will be serving as a director on Cliffs’ Board. With the addition of Mr. Halverson and the previously announced retirement of Joseph Carrabba, Cliffs’ Board will be comprised of a total of 11 directors ….” (more here from the In Support of Mining blog, here and here) ….
  • …. one of the senior folks is preparing to head out  “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (29 Oct 13) announced that Donald J. Gallagher, executive vice president & president, global commercial, will retire effective Dec. 31, 2013 ….” – a bit more here in the company’s regulatory filing on the change
  • KWG Resources has applied for a patent on a new refining process that would make processing chromite from the Ring of Fire more viable in Ontario.  “Instead of using electricity to break down the chromite into its (ferrochrome), we’re using natural gas,” said Moe Lavigne, vice-president of KWG.  “We engaged a lab to do this research for us over the past number of months. We’ve now come to the conclusion this is going to be a much more economical way of reducing chromite to ferrochrome,” he added.  Lavigne said this could be a game-changer for the mining industry, allowing companies to process chromite in the province instead of going to Manitoba or Quebec where energy is less expensive.  The process of refining the chromite wouldn’t change much from using natural gas over electric furnaces; the only difference would be in the cost.  While Lavigne couldn’t say just how much money this could save KWG, he did say it wouldn’t be a project they’re looking to use government subsidies for; the same goes for the company’s proposed north-south rail transportation corridor to the Ring of Fire.  “They’re self-financing,” he said. “They’re also much more economical so that means that the economic sustainability of operations in the Ring of Fire would be much greater.” ….” – more here (from the company) and here (from the media)
  • Meanwhile, a CBC reporter shares concerns (via Twitter) regarding where KWG’s natural gas’ll be coming from  #Mining company eyes #fracking as means to process ore from the Ring of Fire …. My understanding from the news release is they want to rely on shale gas from other Cdn locations to reduce processing costs.
  • Noront visited  Finland with other mining types this week  Presented at Canada-Finish Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Helsinki …. Attending reception and dinner with CDN Embassy in Helsinki tonight. With Paul Semple @NorontResources @the_PDAC and other Canadians
  • One environmentalist’s take on the Cliffs-KWG fight over the desired (by Cliffs) road to the Ring of Fire (over KWG’s claimed land)  “Cliffs Natural Resources’ call for provincial intervention regarding a transportation corridor to the Ring of Fire is nothing more than political manoeuvring. Media are taking the bait and the opposition parties are taking full advantage. It’s easy to recognize that no party would be able govern over this issue by simply waving a wand and making things move along. The dispute between Cliffs and KWG is a legal issue, not a policy issue ….”
  • Queen’s Park columnist chats up all sides of the Ring of Fire fracas  “…. So will the Ring of Fire be an economic boon — or a bust?  Will it bring jobs to a part of the province that has been hit hard by the downturn in the economy?  Or will they just keep walking the line?”
  • Ring of Fire in the Ontario Legislature (1)  Ontario mines minister Michael Gravelle responding to a question on “creating a plan for mining development and job creation”  “I appreciate the question, and I think, as the member understands very well, we are indeed working with all our partners very, very closely. We’re certainly involved in very significant and important discussions, if not negotiations, with the Matawa First Nations, something that we hope will lead us towards a much greater opportunity to work together with them as well on a number of issues that are very important.  We’re working in terms of skills upgrading and skills training to have people prepared for the Ring of Fire. We’re certainly also working with the federal government, as well, trying to get them to play a true partnership role, and, may I say, with the companies. We continue to work closely in a focused way with all the companies: Cliffs Natural Resources, Noront Resources and KWG Resources.  This is a complex and complicated project, one that will make such a difference to so many over so many years—a multi-generational opportunity—and, indeed, that’s the opportunity that we have to work together with the work that, obviously, all of us can do here in the Legislature together …. in terms of the skills training and upgrading, we’ve provided skills training and upgrading to over 800 people. We’ve consulted, on a number of bases, with First Nation communities, as well as all kinds of other northern municipal leaders and on a variety of aspects as well. In terms of the companies, we recognize how important infrastructure is. That’s why we are looking very closely at a variety of options.  Our obligation, and what your expectation would be, is that we make an appropriate assessment to say, “What is the best decision in terms of the role the province should be playing in terms of infrastructure?” That’s exactly what we’re doing, and that’s why we’re going to continue to work as closely as we can with Cliffs and with the other companies, with Noront and with KWG.  I think you recognize what a complex project—it’s a multi-faceted project, but one that we are extremely excited about, continue to be excited about, continue to view as a real priority ….”
  • Municipal and business calls for federal money for Ring of Fire infrastructure  “The Timmins Chamber of Commerce wants Ottawa to partner with mining companies in the Ring of Fire to build the infrastructure needed to reach that future mining camp in the James Bay lowlands.  At the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting in Kelowna, B.C., the Timmins Chamber successfully lobbied to have Canada’s largest business advocacy group push the federal government for more funding for miningrelated transportation and energy infrastructure in the region.  The development of any plan to bring either a permanent road or rail to the remote chromite and base metals exploration camp, 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, appears to be at a stalemate, at least on the provincial level.  “The policy that we’ve put forward with the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is asking the feds to come to the table in a consistent way,” said Nick Stewart, the Timmins Chamber’s manager of policy, research and communications.  Stewart said the chamber would like to see the same degree of federal investment in Ring of Fire development as it would with any highway or major infrastructure works in other parts of Canada ….”
  • Sudbury’s push on the province  “The discovery of the Ring of Fire was like “winning the lottery,” and the province needs to treat it like so, a city councillor said Tuesday evening.  “The Ring of Fire is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Ron Dupuis. “The only way we’re going to get this going is to keep pressure on the people in Toronto and to make sure they understand how vital it is to us.”  Dupuis’ comments came following a motion introduced by Mayor Marianne Matichuk that calls on the province to make the chromite-rich deposit a priority for the government.  “This motion is not designed to favour one company over another or to wade into legal dispute,” the mayor said. “It’s about partners working together so legal intervention is not needed.  “The province must work with all stakeholders … the Ring of Fire is critical to the economic future of all of Ontario.” …. Council’s motion will be sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne; Michael Gravelle, the minister of northern development and mines; Tim Hudak; Andrea Horwath and Northern Ontario’s MPPs.”  Here’s the council agenda of the meeting where the motion was passed, and here’s the wording of the motion from the agenda.
  • Speaking of what senior government shoulod be doing …. “Lakehead University’s newly-minted Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration is hosting a policy conference in early December.  “The Role of Government Policy in Sustainable Mining Development” is set for December 5-6 at Lakehead University.  The aim of the conference is to examine the past, present and future of public policy and how it promotes sustainable mining development. Some of the policy areas featured involve infrastructure, Aboriginal and community engagement, environmental protection, workforce, taxation, benefit-sharing and business development …. For details and to register online visit www.cesme.lakeheadu.ca.”  You can find out more about the conference itself here, with the latest version of the agenda here
  • Editorial on how communities should be working together, not against each other  “…. Consider the battle for the location of a smelter connected to the proposed Ring of Fire chromite development in the Far North. Cities across the region went all out to pitch their own particular attributes — some hiring public relations consultants — even though the location, near Sudbury, was all but chosen in a so-called base case model.  An approach being recommended at (a recent) conference would instead see regional development agencies work together with all municipal players with an eye to investing in the region’s future — in the case of the Northwest as a service area for increased mining activity.  Competition is healthy in business but not so much among communities depending on business investments in the resources people across a region depend on.”
  • Matawa negotiator Bob Rae managing expectations in a talk in Thunder Bay?  ” You can’t snap your fingers and expect to make issues surrounding the Ring of Fire development process disappear, says Bob RaeRae, lead negotiator for the Matawa Tribal Council for all things concerning the region’s mega mining project, said the recent decision by the Mining and Lands Commissioner to reject Cliffs Natural Resources plans for a road may have been unexpected, but it is something that has to be worked around.  The former premier of Ontario and interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada was in Thunder Bay Friday as part of Confederation College’s Wiicitaakewin Speaker Series.  “We obviously all want to see the companies continue to take an interest in what’s going on, and take an interest in building in the days ahead,” Rae told local reporters following the session.  “But it has to be done in a way that reflects the interests of all the communities and reflects the reality that we have to work inside the law.” ….”
  • The Conference Board of Canada‘s Centre for the North apparently met this week with Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders this week to discuss “impacts of mining in NAN territory”
  • First Nations in NW, NE Ontario have another deal with Ontario’s MNR to maintain a forum to help solve mining, forestry and other extractive development problems  The Anishinabek Nation and Ontario have signed their fifth memorandum of understanding to ensure coordination on natural resource management issuesAnishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, Northern Superior Regional Chief Peter Collins, South East Regional Chief James Marsden and Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources, David Orazietti, signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding to extend the work of the Anishinabek/Ontario Resource Management Council.  “This forum is crucial to convey our First Nations priorities and the current relevant issues of our Regions directly to the MNR,” says Grand Council Chief Madahbee.  Examples of issues in the Northern Superior Region that have been on the A/ORMC agenda include the enforcement of incidental cabin policy by MNR conservation officers  where First Nations have the right to have incidental cabins, the lack of maintenance on forestry logging road (Old Carmack Road – Highway 625) and the introduction of caribou to the region ….”
  • Meanwhile, Lake Superior-area Chiefs say they need more help to benefit from mining in the area  “Lake Superior region Chiefs are looking for more benefits and less paperwork related to mining activities on their traditional territories.  Participants in an Oct. 9-10 Northern Superior Regional Mining Workshop were unanimous in their call for increased capacity at the local level to protect Anishinabek and treaty rights and to respond to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines heavy paperwork burden resulting from the new mining regulations.  Furthermore, they stressed the need for a mining coordinator at the UOI Northern Superior office ….”
  • Canada has been singled out as the country with the most risk of conflict with aboriginal communities in a new study examining treatment of indigenous rights and resource development around the world.  “Canada is a developed country and it is having an implosion of the sort that we’ve only seen in the developing countries,” said Rebecca Adamson, president and co-founder of First Peoples’ Worldwide, the group that conducted the study.  “We’ve always seen this erupt when a government refuses to be clear in upholding indigenous land tenure.”  The Indigenous Rights Risk Report studied 52 U.S. resource companies and 370 projects around the world, including 16 companies and 76 projects active in Canada. The aim of the survey is to assess how likely it is that conflict with indigenous communities could result in costly shutdowns.  Canada is home to six of the 21 projects deemed to be at highest risk of collapse according to the group’s analysis — more than any other country. Countries such as Argentina, Indonesia and Ghana are its peers on the list ….”
  • More from the In Support of Mining blog on the junior mining company suing Ontario because of the “actions and policies of the Government of Ontario relating to First Nations” – although the company is sharing its Statement of Claim via its web page (PDF), none of the claims have been proven in court.  Also, here’s what the mines minister had to say in the Ontario Legislature this week about the case “…. we remain committed to working with both parties to help foster a positive relationship, and certainly ensuring that Sachigo Lake First Nation is appropriately consulted. Our ministry staff have made significant efforts to engage with both the company and the First Nation. We’ve offered to facilitate discussions between them. Certainly, we’ve invited the company as well to make use of our new regulatory process. We take this very seriously. We’re very encouraged by the many agreements that are in place as a result of our duty-to-consult obligations ….”

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.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Ring of Fire News – October 24, 2013

  • What’s Cliffs Need, Exactly, from Ontario to Get a Road Up to the Ring of Fire?  “…. If it can’t build the road, Cliffs will have to consider shutting down operations, said Bill Boor, vice-president of ferroalloys.  “I guess it would be fair to say that we have to think about it,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.  “We haven’t made any decision along those lines and we hope we don’t get to that point.” …. the company isn’t prepared to take on the cost of buying KWG …. The only viable solution is for the government to step in, Boor said. It could expropriate the surface rights (of KWG’s mining claims along a right-of-way leading to the Ring of Fire) or withhold a portion of the surface Crown land for the public interest.  Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle wouldn’t say whether he will intervene or even consider it. But developing the Ring of Fire “remains a top priority” for the governing Liberals, he said ….” – variations on this theme from Cliffs in other media outlets here, here, here, here and here
  • Commentary on the Latest from Cliffs  “…. Cliffs has a point that uncertain signals from the province, and lengthy negotiations with First Nations in the Ring of Fire can slow advancement on any mining project there.  But a squabble with KWG over a transportation corridor – remembering the two are partners on the Big Daddy project – is a terrible reason to walk away from a breakthrough chromite discovery. Even less becoming to its corporate image, is Cliffs’ veiled threat to shut down a second potential mine project in Ontario.”
  • More Commentary on the Latest from Cliffs (also available here if previous link doesn’t work)  “…. Whereas Cliffs earlier said it wanted to talk to the province about finding other Crown land on which to build its road, it now suggests Ontario could simply expropriate the high ground Cliffs and rival KWG seek to use.  That does not sound unreasonable if KWG is granted something in return …. Ontario needs to place this matter atop its development priority list, get key players into one room and insist on reaching a compromise in the interests of all concerned.”  BTW, the paper corrected the original statement that KWG wanted an east-west road
  • NW Ontario Mayors on a Road to the Ring  (also available here if previous link doesn’t work)  “While the province endured another tongue-lashing in the legislature Tuesday over accusations it’s bungling the Ring of Fire development, some observers wondered why the government still won’t commit to building a main access road to the rich mining region.  “A road must be seen as an investment both in terms of mining development and human capital,” said Red Lake Mayor Phil Vinet, a former miner …. “In our last meeting with Mr. Gravelle, he assured us there is a lot being worked on behind the scenes,” said Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association president Dave Canfield.  “Our main concern is that once (mining development) is ready to go, will the province have the infrastructure in place to be ready for it,” Canfield added ….”
  • Meanwhile, a First Nation Leader Questions the Legality of KWG’s Staked Claims “A staked corridor into the Ring of Fire was done illegally, accuses a First Nations chief ….  Marten Falls chief Eli Moonias said Wednesday that the corridor was staked illegally and without consultation with his community while members were protesting near the Ring of Fire in 2009.  “If they had worked with us from the beginning we might not be in the position that we’re in now,” he said during an interview with CKPR Radio Wednesday.   Moe Lavigne, KWG’s vice-president of exploration and development, said that under the provincial mining act the only way to make claims is to stake them, which is what the company did.  “They are legal,” he said.  Marten Falls was consulted when the claims were staked, Lavigne added.  Harry Baxter, who was chief of Marten Falls at the time, even had a company that provided logistics and fuel to KWG.  “He wasn’t there when the consultation took place, it was his predecessor,” Lavigne said, adding that KWG has always had a difficult relationship with Moonias ….” – a bit more here
  • Letter to the Editor:  Matawa First Nations Seeking Mo’ Money (also available here if previous link doesn’t work)  “Creating constructive solutions to obstacles of mammoth resource development projects like the Ring of Fire and in the grassroots design of a pathway to prosperity for the Matawa First Nations primarily rests with the First Nation peoples of the land …. Matawa Economic Development receives inadequate support from government with the current level of services not meeting the needs of the First Nations …. A strategic investment from FedNor and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is the full support of individual Matawa First Nations and tribal council economic development initiatives. Matawa First Nations management is optimistic that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund’s review of its programs will consider the needs of the First Nations in the development area and evolve the granting process with flexible, creative features to support them ….”
  • Back to Cliffs’ – their latest financials are out, with a short-and-sweet summary via @CliffsNR  We reported improved 2013 Q3 Revenue of $1.5 Billion, a slight year-over-year increase ….  Third-Quarter Operating Income Increased by 194% to $224 million and Year-to-Date Cash Flow from Operations Increased 149% to $686 Million”  –  more details from the Company’s info-machine here
  • In the midst of all the hand-wringing about Cliffs, a reminder from Noront Resources, via Twitter“Ring of fire development not reliant only on one company to make it happen. @NorontResources #sustainable development #aboriginal training”
  • Noront’s CEO drops by Webequie First Nation (picture shared via Twitter) ….
  • …. while the company helps get a teacher there to help out  “Thank you @NorontResources for flying our teacher Zoee to #Webequie (23 Oct) to work with the grade 7&8’s on their show!” (more here)
  • Ring of Fire in Ontario’s Legislature (1)  What the Premier said responding to questions in the Legislature:  “…. we have a lot of faith in the folks who are involved in building those relationships and in the negotiation with the First Nations. But I want to be clear that it is a very complex thing. I don’t know if the member opposite is aware of how many First Nations communities are involved, whether he’s aware of the need to make sure that the social supports and training supports are in place so that First Nations young people and residents of communities can take part in this economic growth, and whether he understands that there are a number of companies who have vested interests.  There are a number of moving parts. I can tell you, drawing on my time as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, that if we do not get this right in the first instance, if we do not build these relationships and make sure the training and supports are in place, then we will not be able to develop the Ring of Fire. It’s as simple as that ….”
  • Ring of Fire in Ontario’s Legislature (2)  What the Minister of Natural Resources said responding to questions in the Legislature“…. I have full confidence in Justice Iacobucci, who is seized with the negotiations on this, as well as Bob Rae, who is representing the First Nations in the area. I know that the Premier and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines have met with the Matawa Tribal Council and the First Nations, because they are an integral part of ensuring that this development proceeds and moves forward.  We understand that this is a sizable, very significant development in the province of Ontario, and it will take some time to get this right. Our government is committed to moving this project forward …. The Minister of Northern Development and Mines is committed to working with all parties, the communities. We think there’s tremendous potential for the community of Greenstone to play a very significant role in this development to bring new jobs and new opportunities to Ontario ….”
  • Ring of Fire in Ontario’s Legislature (3)  What the Minister of Northern Development and Mines said responding to a (softball) question in the Legislature“We know that in order for a community to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity, they need to be ready, and that’s the kind of work that’s under way in our ministry. I’ll mention the work we did with the Matawa First Nations on a historic framework agreement, and community readiness strategies for communities such as Thunder Bay and Greenstone, which will ultimately be the transportation hub for the Ring of Fire.  I want to encourage all members to speak to us about the work that we’re doing, because indeed that’s going forward in a positive way. We’re having discussions with all interested companies. Those discussions obviously will include important infrastructure links. We recognize how important infrastructure is …. Let me tell you this: We are assessing a number of options that will see the greatest benefit for Ontarians ….”
  • Ring of Fire in Ontario’s Legislature (4)  More on what was said this week at Queen’s Park here, here and here
  • Have a great weekend!

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.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Ring of Fire News – October 18, 2013

  • This past week’s federal Speech from the Throne makes no specific mention of the Ring of Fire, but Canada’s prospectors & developers seem happy with the natural resources bits  “The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) welcomes the Government of Canada’s renewed commitment to investing in and developing Canada’s natural resources to benefit all Canadians.  “The Government of Canada has been a strong partner in maintaining the vibrancy and competitiveness of Canada’s mineral exploration and development industry,” says Ross Gallinger, PDAC’s Executive Director. “The PDAC is pleased to see continued support from the Government, as reflected in today’s Throne Speech.”  The PDAC is furthermore encouraged by the Government’s acknowledgement of the cost of working in the North and expanding development across the region. “Our industry employs over 330,000 Canadians, and is the largest private employer of Aboriginals in Canada,” says Gallinger. “We look forward to working together with the Government to provide job training so Canadians have the skills needed to fulfill the wide range of employment opportunities available in the sector.” ….”
  • First Nation leaders were a bit more underwhelmed with the Speech from the Throne – Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy’s take (“It’s the federal government’s implementation plan to detribalize our nations”) here, and Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Pat Mahdabee take (“I have yet to see any evidence of a government that is willing to work with First Nations as a true treaty partner.”) here.
  • The Wildlands League is calling on the Ontario government to undertake a region-wide environmental assessment of lands in the Ring of Fire, rather than allow piecemeal assessments by companies that have staked claims in the area.  The environmental organization has published a 12-page newsletter (PDF), urging Ontarians to insist the provincial and federal governments not issue any more approvals to companies such as Cliffs Natural Resources, Noront Resources and KWG Resources until a thorough environmental assessment is complete.  It wants that assessment to include consultation with members of First Nations and other communities who will be impacted by mining in the Ring of Fire — and that includes Sudburians.  Cliffs Natural Resources has chosen the former Moose Mine site north of Capreol as the location for its $1.8-billion ferrochrome processing plant to process ore from its Black Thor deposit.  Anna Baggio, director of conservation land use planning for the Wildlands League, said her organization has received calls from residents in northeastern Ontario and elsewhere who are worried about the impact mining the rich chromite deposits will have on the environment.  The Wildlands League isn’t anti-development, said Baggio, but it wants the environmental assessment of the area done correctly ….” – more here
  • Political columnist to PM:  don’t forget First Nations  “Historically, the Canadian government has catered to aboriginals only when it needed them. It needs them now.  Specifically, Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs First Nations on side if his government is to push through its ambitious resource development plans and reap the requisite political awards.  British Columbia’s native communities have the capacity to tie up — perhaps indefinitely — Harper’s proposed oil pipeline to the Pacific Coast. They have promised to do just that.  Mining development in northern Ontario’s so-called ring of fire can take place only if First Nations there agree.  So far, the Ontario government has been carrying out the ring-of-fire negotiations. But Ottawa too wants those minerals developed and the federal government’s approach to native people is bound to have an effect on any final deal.  Whether Harper fully understands all of this is unclear. He’s reputed to be a master tactician. But with a few exceptions, the prime minister has been remarkably tone deaf about Indian, Métis and Inuit issues ….”
  • Mining analyst on what’s happened so far  “Last summer’s announcement by American-based Cliffs Natural Resources to temporarily halt its chromite mining project in Ontario’s Ring of Fire camp was met with flying accusations of fault by many politicians affected stakeholders, environmental NGOs and First Nations communities.  There certainly is plenty of blame to go around including the company itself — stubborn opposition to a more thorough environmental assessment demanded by First Nations — Cliffs’ inability to finance the project at the present time and most importantly a currently depressed metals market.  And the recent decision by the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner to deny Cliffs road access to their chromite deposits on mining claims staked by junior KWG Resources and their ensuing appeal will definitely delay the project for at least another year or so.  However, this might be a great opportunity to scrutinize the entire development and decide if Ontario has leveraged as many economic and value-added benefits as possible during the current commodity super-cycle and why a tiny country like Finland has been able to do much more with a significantly smaller and lower quality chromite deposit of its own ….”
  • More from Bob Rae speaking in Timmins  Inclusion, expansion and understanding were the central theme of the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund’s Mining Ready Summit. The keynote speaker continued to convey the point.  Former Ontario premier Bob Rae spoke about the need to include First Nations in all aspects of development, increasing accessibility to remote Northern communities and spreading the potential wealth found in the Ring of Fire development.  “I think that the current model is ready to be put into action,” said Rae in an interview following his speech. “I think that building sustainability into the approach that companies are taking, I think that we need to look at sustaining communities and sustainability is about the people as well as the environment ….”
  • Northern Ontario First Nations continue to push for all-weather road systems  “Discussions about all-weather roads and winter roads are ramping up across Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory.  “We’ve had tons of resolutions regarding winter roads over the years, 20-30 years,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Les Louttit during the Sept. 27 Winter Roads and All-Weather Roads First Nations Forum in Thunder Bay. “But recently, in the past three or four years, First Nations are now starting to talk all-weather roads because of the difficulties they are encountering due to shorter seasons caused by climate change, warmer weather and thinner ice.”  Louttit said the changing conditions are putting winter-road workers’ lives at risk as well as increasing costs for construction.  “We had two deaths last year in northwestern Ontario,” Louttit said. “It’s hard to predict the weather, but in order for the winter roads to be viable, we need cold weather and thicker ice.”  Louttit said NAN is looking at developing a NAN-wide strategy on the transportation issue, noting the changing weather conditions and upcoming resource industry transportation requirements need to be considered.  “If the Ring of Fire (mineral development area) is going to be developed, First Nations need to be involved, not only the Matawa First Nations, but all NAN First Nations need to be involved in the regional infrastructure, whether it’s roads, energy, hydro or whatever, that’s being planned to accommodate not only the resource sector but the First Nations access to all-weather roads and the highway system,” Louttit said.  Louttit said any resource roads built in NAN traditional territory need to accommodate access for neighbouring First Nation communities ….”
  • More on the James Bay port idea  “The Ring of Fire development has made headlines over past months and years for both the sheer scale and economic potential of its Chromite deposit and for the myriad of problems that both junior companies like KWG Resources and big mining conglomerates like Cliffs Natural Resources.  The logistical nightmare of exporting high-grade ore from the James Bay Lowlands to processing centres in Sudbury has plagued the development of the massive ore body.  But KWG Resources has brought forward a solution. The James Bay and Lowland Ports Authority.  “When the announcement was made regarding the dissolving of the ONTC and the ONR, the labour unions that represent those employees came to us (KWG) with an idea,” said Frank Smeenk, CEO of KWG Resources. “They talked to us about being from the North, about watching the development of the Ring of Fire, particularly the Black Horse deposit, and we know that we have a perfectly viable railroad business, maybe we can collaborate.” ….”
  • More reaction to the Eco Commissioner’s recommendations on the Ring of Fire  “Ontario’s environmental watchdog issued a warning that the province has changed legislation that will see its natural resources exploited – something Sault MPP and Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti argues vehemently against. Environmental commissioner Gord Miller states in his annual report that provincial government cutbacks announced during the spring budget will result in the Ministry of Natural Resources having less power to protect Ontario’s resources. 
Instead, the powers will be delegated to private companies, which in turn could lead to exploitation of Crown land, wildlife and natural resources, the report states.  He referred to Ontario’s far north as turning into the “wild west,” particularly with the potential development around the Ring of Fire, expected to be the province’s most promising mineral development of chromite and warns that major industrial activities can proceed with few checks.  He also criticized the government for a lack of an action plan to deal with invasive species like the Asian carp and emerald ash borer.  But Orazietti counters that Miller has misinterpreted the rules and that the new power for private companies only deals with minor changes on issues like dredging permits and the removal of vegetation that only has minimal environmental impact ….”
  • Wanted:  Someone to manage Aboriginal and Ministry Relationships over at Ontario’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs  (you can also check out the job posting here in case the previous link doesn’t work)  “Are you a strong, calm negotiator with a passion for developing and sustaining positive relationships with Aboriginal leaders and organizations? Are your values as a leader; trust, fairness, creativity and collaboration? Then consider this exciting challenging opportunity in the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs …. Reporting to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Ministry Partnerships, as the Director, Aboriginal and Ministry Relationships – Resources/Economic Development, you will:  Create, enhance, maintain and support formal and informal relationships with Aboriginal leaders, organizations and partners;  Manage relationships from both the resolution and issues management perspectives ….”

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.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Ring of Fire News – October 10, 2013

  • Cliffs appeals Mining & Lands Commission keeping them from building a road on KWG’s mining claims leading up to the Ring of Fire  Counsel for KWG Resources Inc. has been served with a Notice of Appeal on behalf of the Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. subsidiary that recently lost its application to the Mining and Lands Commission.  Cliffs had sought an Order to dispense with the consent of KWG for the granting of an easement to Cliffs over mining claims previously staked and assessed by KWG. In a decision released on September 10, 2013 the Mining and Lands Commission dismissed the application ….” – more here, here, here, here, here and here
  • Meanwhile, “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. …. intends to announce unaudited 2013 third-quarter financial results after the U.S.-market close Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 ….”details of the 25 Oct conference call here
  • KWG Resources Inc. has been granted a further extension of the conditional listing approval to complete the previously announced private placement of units of flow-through shares and share purchase warrants. The TSX Venture exchange has given the company until October 21, 2013 to complete the balance of the placement of units. A first tranche of $300,000 has closed and a second tranche of $250,000 has been subscribed. Each unit comprises one flow-through treasury share and one warrant which may be exercised to acquire a further flow-through share for $0.10 at any time within three years. The units may be acquired by qualified investors for a subscription of $0.05 each ….”
  • Bold Ventures Inc. reports the completion of a helicopter borne VTEM electromagnetic and magnetic geophysical survey in the Ring of Fire area of Northern Ontario. The survey was carried out to detail previously surveyed blocks as well as to investigate new areas that had not been surveyed. This ongoing hunt for “elephant sized” mineral deposits is being carried out as part of a systematic, ongoing (since 2010) reconnaissance of under explored areas that have not been subject to the current technology of Vertical Loop Time Domain Electro Magnetic survey systems in the past. The Company took the opportunity to fly the survey at this time in order to manage the timing of this activity with local First Nation activities.  As a result of the recently completed VTEM survey, a further 20 claims totaling 292 claim units comprising approximately 4,672 hectares or 11,680 acres were staked to cover the areas that encountered anomalous results. A comprehensive review of the survey data is being undertaken ….”
  • A bit more money for First Nations dealing with the Noront project  “The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has allocated a total of $19,233 to the Kasabonika Lake First Nation to support their participation in consultation activities related to the environmental assessment of the proposed Eagle’s Nest Project, located in Ontario.  This funding was made available to Aboriginal groups through the Participant Funding Program administered by the Agency, and will enable participation in upcoming steps of the environmental assessment, such as consultation related to the Environmental Impact Statement and the review of the Comprehensive Study Report ….”.
  • Meanwhile, Noront Resources has a new cheat sheet on their project online
  • Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Gord Miller:  Ring of Fire needs more than just piecmeal environmental assessments  “…. The government should strategically assess the potential environmental impacts in the Ring of Fire region. “Right now, environmental assessments are done on a piecemeal, project by project basis,” says Miller. “They do not take into account the combined effect of  all the individual mines, roads, transmission corridors, airstrips, and other impacts that will have profound effects the Far North and many First Nation communities.” ….”  – more detail on pages 63 to 75 of the full 2013 annual report here
  • Ontario Mines Minister Michael Gravelle on the Ring of Fire  “Approximately 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, in the James Bay Lowlands, sits an estimated $30-50 billion worth of untapped mineral resources. When developed, this exciting discovery will potentially transform the region, create thousands of jobs and enhance the future economic prosperity for Ontario.  Realizing the full potential of the Ring of Fire is an extremely complex undertaking, one that our government takes very seriously. We have to make sure that we get it right. This means making important investments in people, infrastructure and building the right business climate for successful development ….”
  • Another Gravelle (this one an MP) from the North on the Ring of Fire  “The stalled Ring of Fire mining project finds itself at a critical crossroads with governments in Ottawa and Ontario needing to work together now more than ever. That will mean leadership that actually engages all parties and contributes to sustainable development.  Otherwise, this “project of the century for Northern Ontario” — with values from $50 billion to $120 billion being cited following discovery of world-class chromite deposits for stainless steel markets — may have to wait for another generation ….”
  • Not just any AGM  “…. The annual gathering of the Matawa First Nations Tribal Council doesn’t follow the conventions of the usual corporate annual general meeting, nor the formalities of government sessions.  During a sacred opening ceremony, elders load long pipes with tobacco and puff out billows of smoke as three men and a boy pound a powwow drum. Songs from time immemorial reverberate through the open doors of a rundown community centre where kids play ball hockey in the gym.  At the top of the agenda: How to assert a unified stance on mining development that encroaches on traditional territories in this part of northern Ontario, home to a bed of lucrative mineral deposits that has been dubbed the Ring of Fire ….”
  • Matawa negotiator:  Ring of Fire’ll help (but not the only answer)  “Former Liberal leader Bob Rae says natural resource projects such as Ontario’s massive Ring of Fire aren’t a “magic bullet” to eliminate poverty in remote aboriginal communities.  Rae told a conference on Saturday that several approaches are needed — including jobs training, education and governance — to help the resource-rich but underdeveloped areas raise themselves up.  “If you want to see conditions of real underdevelopment, and see what the impact is on people and families, on children and on adults, you do not have to go very far,” he told the crowd ….”.
  • Bob Rae also had a chance to experience a power outage during one of his trips to remote communities this week – while discussing power supply issues – a tiny bit more on the visits on Rae’s Twitter feed here and here.
  • Speaking of First Nations and electricity in northwestern Ontario …. A power transmission company looking to connect remote First Nations to the provincial energy grid is expandingAt a news conference in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, Wataynikaneyap Power announced that five more communities have joined the power consortium.  The company, a partnership between Goldcorp Inc. and the Central Corridor Energy Group and its First Nations members, is developing a power transmission line to remote communities and the Musselwhite Mine north of Pickle Lake.  With the addition of Deer Lake, Keewaywin, McDowell Lake, North Spirit Lake and Poplar Hill First Nations, 18 communities are now equal partners in the power transmission company ….” – more on the announcement here, and on the consortium/partnership here
  • Editorial:  In declaring that the Ring of Fire mining belt is not a “magic bullet” for surrounding First Nations poverty, Bob Rae is not pouring cold water on the prospect of prosperity. Instead, the former politician hired to negotiate involvement of nine Matawa tribal council bands is confirming what needs doing to make the most of it. Mining riches will not simply “trickle down” to reserves, he told a Toronto conference. Rather, improved education, job training tailored to mining and better governance are essential ….”
  • Letter to the Editor  “It is wrong-headed to suggest that government “red tape” is the reason for Cliff’s delays in the Ring of Fire. Unless by red tape the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party means things like laws against interfering with another company’s ability to work, or legitimate grievances between First Nations, industry and the province.  We all want the jobs and benefits that come with projects like the Ring of Fire, but it is backwards to suggest that being denied an easement that would inhibit a competitor’s ability to do business is just red tape. Northern Ontarians can see through the guff of this rhetoric ….”
  • Analyst/activist’s take  “…. while Indigenous peoples’ protests have achieved important environmental victories – mining operations stopped here, forest conservation areas set up there – these have remained sporadic and isolated. Canada’s country-wide policies of ignoring Indigenous land rights have rarely been challenged, and never fundamentally.  Until now. If it’s only a social movement that can change the power equation upholding the official’s stance, then the Idle No More uprising may be it ….”
  • (Not Ring of Fire, but Worth Keeping an Eye On)  “Nunavik groups say proposed changes to Quebec’s mining act don’t go far enough to address the region’s distinct needs and existing agreements.  Bill 43, a bill to reform Quebec’s mining act, was presented last spring, although public hearings on the bill wrapped up in Quebec City Oct. 1.  The draft bill imposes tougher environmental protections while increasing legal requirements for mining companies looking to explore in Quebec — changes that are welcomed in Nunavik.  But Makivik Corp. said the bill should not require that impact and benefits agreements between Nunavik and mining companies be made public. In other words, these should remain secret ….”

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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Ring of Fire News – October 4, 2013

  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Money for First Nations to take part in Noront’s Eagle’s Nest environmental assessment  “The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has allocated a total of $19,233 to one Aboriginal applicant to support their participation in consultation activities related to the environmental assessment of the proposed Eagle’s Nest Project, located in Ontario.  This funding was made available to Aboriginal groups through the Participant Funding Program administered by the Agency, and will enable participation in upcoming steps of the environmental assessment, such as consultation related to the Environmental Impact Statement and the review of the Comprehensive Study Report ….” – more on the project here, and on the funding program here
  • New member of the board for Cliffs  “Stephen M. Johnson, 62, chairman, president and chief executive officer of McDermott International, Inc., has been elected to Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.’s board of directors.  The appointment is effective Oct. 1. He will be a member of the board’s Audit Committee and the Governance and Nominating Committee. With the addition of Johnson, Cliffs’ board will be comprised of a total of 11 directors ….” – more here and here
  • Cliffs draws at least one investment analyst’s eye  “….it is dangerous to pay too much attention to political and economic forecasts. While I believe this to be true, I also believe that it is wise to be on the lookout for large market bubbles, which can be discovered by analyzing raw data and comparing it to common sense conclusions. By maintaining this duel mind-set, the Foolish investor can remain focused on investing in companies that are fundamentally sound and undervalued, while avoiding value traps that could hinder their performance. It was with this logical thought process that I stumbled upon Cliffs Natural Resources, a large iron ore and metallurgical coal mining company located in Cleveland, Ohio ….”
  • EditorialKWG-Cliffs ruling – No appeasement on the easement …. The precedent-setting ruling by the province’s Mining and Lands Commissioner (MLC) was a win for the “little guy,” in that it strongly affirmed the rights of existing mining-claim holders in the face of an aggressive major company with a competing development plan for the area ….”
  • More (pessimistic) commentary on the KWG-Cliffs ruling:  “The opening sentence of the latest legal ruling emanating from the James Bay lowlands says it all: “The north is not a quiet place.” That’s because throughout this 43-page ruling it’s the lawyers who are profiled in full court press in what is a tour de force of no-holds-barred resource sector litigating. They’re the sole reason the north is not a quiet place; because when the dust settles, this ruling will make the Ring of Fire quieter than a subarctic winter’s night for years to come ….”
  • Letter to the editor  “Where are our government MPPs? …. How come they have not shown outrage over the refusal of Cliffs request to build the needed road into the Ring of Fire? Is it that the extra 1,200 jobs is not important to them? ….”
  • More commentary  “…. The economic feasibility is in doubt right now. Declines in commodity prices, including refined chromite (ferrochrome) make this project questionable.  From my perspective, money will be the least of their worries.  It will take a lot more than money to deal with the overwhelming social, cultural and environmental costs.  The 24,000 First Nations people living in 34 remote communities are caught in the middle of this clash of cultures.  The earth, the air and the water they value will be devastated by decades of open pit mining. Their ancestral homeland and traditional values will be sold for profit.  Stockholders are excited by this prospect.  Meanwhile, the rest of us dream of big chromite money, as we wait for the Hobbs/Gravelle/Clement vision to unfold and make us rich.  Let the good times roll.”
  • Part of Ring of Fire series, this one focussing on Webequie First Nation  “For First Nations, Disruption Is Certain, Profits Less So”
  • Municipal leaders press federal, provincial ministers on the Ring of Fire  “Frustration over the speed of the Ring of Fire was evident at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association meetings in Thunder Bay on Friday. Delegates at the meeting expressed their concerns that officials at the municipal level were not being let into the room.  Minister Gravelle had faced a bear-pit style series of questions on Thursday. The market conditions are impacting mining, and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines along with Premier Kathleen Wynne have expressed that getting the Ring of Fire right is critical ….”
  • As James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, prepares for a visit to Canada next week, he raises an interesting question in a commentary:  “Is natural resource development a blessing, a ‘quick-fix,’ or a curse?
  • Matawa calls out to First Nation members to sign up for mining-related training (PDF)
  • The City of Thunder Bay has been busy sharing its Mining Readiness Strategy (created in partnership with the Fort William First Nation).  According to these minutes of the City’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee (page 11), copies have been sent out to former Ring of Fire minister Tony Clement, Ontario’s Mines Minister Michael Gravelle, provincial negotiator Frank Iacobucci, Matawa negotiator Bob Rae and “Members of the Northern Ontario Cabinet”.
  • (Not Ring of Fire, but worth watching)  “Another Treaty 3 First Nation will have its day at the Supreme Court to argue its case against allowing the province making decisions regarding resource extraction in the First Nations traditional territory. The high court has granted an appeal to Wabauskang First Nation, which has been fighting mining projects inside its territory since it took Rubicon Minerals to court in December 2012 …. Wabauskang will essentially be arguing that the province of Ontario does not have the right to approve mining plans, such as Rubicon’s Phoenix Gold Mining Project, without involvement from the federal government. Treaty 3 does give the provincial government the power to “take up” land for resource development ….” – more 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.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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