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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.

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