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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.

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