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Even MOAR Reaction to Cliffs’ Decision

  • Ontario/mines minister  “…. (Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael) Gravelle announced the province’s intention to create a development corporation that would bring together private and public parties involved in the project, such as First Nations, mining companies and both levels of government.  He plans on meeting with the federal government, specifically MP Greg Rickford, who has the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario within his Cabinet portfolio …. Gravelle also said he plans to sit down with Cliffs and Bill Boor, the company’s senior vice-president of global ferroalloys. He stressed a need to listen to Cliffs to understand the company’s position.”  Source
  • Canada/Ring of Fire minister  “During a stop in Timmins on Friday, the federal minister responsible for the Ring of Fire gave pointed answers as to who he thought was to blame for Cliffs Natural Resources pulling out of its proposed multi-billion dollar chromite mining project.  Greg Rickford (Conservative – Kenora), federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, and FedNor, said the management of an intra-company land ownership conflict between Cliffs and KWG Resources Inc. is at the top of the list of reasons why the project was put on hold.  Since Ontario’s mining and land commissioner ruled against Ohio-based Cliffs request for an easement to build an access road across KWG-owned land in September, Cliffs had threatened to indefinitely cancel the project.  Rickford expanded on why he believed the decision was ultimately announced by Cliffs late Wednesday night.  “The land commissioner’s decision is the real source of the uncertainty; you can’t talk about those large-scale infrastructure projects until you know in which direction they’re going to go,” said Rickford. “This really made it complicated for (Cliffs) to understand how their road – or what road, in what direction it would take – would get to their extraction site.”  …. Rickford said he wasn’t prepared to state that companies like Cliffs and Noront were frustrated with the province about the perceived lack of progress. He did add, however, that “if you ask them, Noront and Cliffs will say they are very satisfied with the level of engagement the federal government has demonstrated on this file.  We have taken care of the things we know we should be addressing as a federal government, and we’ve shown and expressed a willingness to work with all of our partners,” said Rickford. “That’s not going to change. Noront is still very much in play here, and we hope that with the province’s extra efforts focusing on the land commissioner’s decision … that Cliffs will come back to the table and we’ll get back to work.  We look forward to the province moving forward in a bit of a more collaborative way. They recently announced the development corporation; we would have appreciated a little more collaboration and notice in that, since what it considers is fairly large in scope, from what I can gather, although it’s not been shared with me at this point.  The good news is I have an effective working relationship with Minister Gravelle on a number of fronts, and this challenge, I think, sits squarely in the Premier’s office. The world is watching, this is a legacy resource project, and we want to get it right for the multi-generations of Northern Ontarians that can benefit from this.”  Rickford maintained he was remaining positive about the future aspects of the Ring of Fire’s development ….”  Source
  • First Nations  “…. Matawa’s CEO David Paul Achneepineskum said this week the setback will give First Nations more time to assess the environmental impacts of the development as well as prepare their people for the opportunities it may present.  The tribal council’s chief negotiator Bob Rae made it clear in a tweet that he’s hellbent on pursuing a fair deal “to end (a) cycle of poverty for First Nations,” even with the biggest player gone.  Still, with pressure from Cliffs removed as an impetus to reach a deal quickly, negotiations with the province risk losing focus and dragging on longer.   While no one denies that Cliffs’ move is a game changer, the looming question is whether it’s a game ender.  The First Nations, government and industry players I spoke with answer with a resounding “no.”  ….”  Source
  • Mining association/Noront  “…. The head of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada said he hopes Cliffs’ decision will spur action on developing infrastructure.  “It’s up to everyone to come together, and that includes the government, the industry, and First Nations to look at what are the challenges ahead,” Glenn Nolan said.  “But what are the opportunities for participating in this opportunity, and do we want to see delays?” ….  Nolan, who is also a vice president with Noront Resources, said Cliffs’ announcement wasn’t a complete surprise, based on statements Cliffs had made in the past …. “  Source
  • Mining Association (2)  “…. The head of the Ontario Prospectors Association said Cliffs’ decision is just the latest move in what he calls a “poker game” the company is playing with the province.  “I think Cliffs just played a card and now it’s up to the government to … respond to it,” Garry Clark said. “Most of the things have … been lining up, though not as quickly as … Cliffs wanted.”  Clark noted the suspension could do some damage to Ontario’s image, but said the province remains one of the better jurisdictions for mining in more accessible areas ….”  Source
  • Industry (1)  “…. Cliffs’ announcement was not what Barb Courte-Elinesky wanted to hear.  The owner of Northstar Drilling in Thunder Bay and director with the group Women in Mining said the largest player in the Ring of Fire freezing its project puts Ontario in a poor light.  “We need to show the world that we are open for business,” she said.  “When something like this happens, it’s not good for our economy, but also it sends out a message.” ….”  Source
  • Industry (2)  “…. industry-watcher and Native legal rights expert Bill Gallagher says their (industry, First Nation) stances are either spin or delusion. The Ring of Fire, he says, is in the “project death zone” and “the biggest missed opportunity on Ontario’s road to resources in a generation.” ….”  Source
  • Capreol Residents  “News that Cliffs has indefinitely suspended work on the Ring of Fire project – including plans to build a $1.8 billion refinery near Capreol – has some residents in the area skeptical the project will ever be revived.  “I’m upset about the whole thing,” said resident Dave Levesque. “It would have been great for the community and for jobs, but now we’ve lost it because of politicians farting around.” ….”  Source
  • Industry analyst  “…. Mining industry writer Stan Sudol said he thinks the interruption in development presents an opportunity.  “We’ve been given a gift of more time,” he said. “So let’s take a look at this project in a more thorough analysis on how to benefit the northwestern region. And so that’s a win.”  Sudol said the delay will give the province more time to build infrastructure and agreements with First Nations.  The odds of Cliffs coming back to the Ring of Fire “are probably less than great,” Sudol said — but it is also dependent on what happens in global metal markets.  The chromite deposit is so rich, “there will be a lot of major mining companies in the world who will look at this as a great opportunity to develop,” he said.  However Sudol pointed out the critical factor is the lack of infrastructure in the area. Until that issue is resolved, he said it will keep a lot of major mining companies away.  But once the infrastructure is in place, and revenue sharing agreements have been made with First Nations, then “I think this project could be brought back to life fairly rapidly,” Sudol said.  “Even though, right now, a lot of people are concerned or saddened that Cliffs has pulled out … the minerals are [still] in the ground, and they’re not going to rot.” “  Source
  • Editorial  “It would be easy to slip into despair over the interruption in Northern Ontario’s prosperous mining promise with the indefinite suspension of operations by leading player Cliffs Natural Resources.  It would be easy to start casting more blame on suspects including the provincial government for dithering and First Nations for holding up production with varying demands for consultation, among others.  There is plenty of blame to go around but money talks loudest in ventures of this size and a company this big is a hostage to its share price. That is dictated by the ebbs and flows of the market and commodity prices which are slumping.  Would Cliffs have shifted into neutral — it has not shut off the engine — if frustration over the pace of talks with government, First Nations and competitors had not been complicated by the lowered world price of the chromite that it seeks to extract from the remote north of Ontario and other minerals that it mines elsewhere? …. A determined political effort to enable a working environment among the main players can bring Cliffs back to at least the point of reconsideration. That effort is essential for more than this.  The worst enemy the Ontario economy can face is uncertainty. The Cliffs scenario sends all the wrong signals to any industrial or business player. If that isn’t fixed, nothing else matters.”  Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (alternate link if previous link doesn’t work)
  • Commentary  “…. If Cliffs’ decision to stop development is the death of that high stakes mining discovery, it was anything but a sudden one.  This past summer, I was one of just two reporters covering a historic three-day meeting of the Matawa First Nations, a group that represents many of the communities that are affected by Ring of Fire development. As part of my reporting for (Huffington Post)’s Staking Claim series, I’ve spoken to the major players in the First Nations community, in government and from the mining companies involved.  They all saw this coming. And none are panicking that the Ring of Fire has been extinguished.  Any insider could see the signs: the many stalls, delays and conflicts between miners and First Nations; miners and government; and government and First Nations.  Just about the only thing the players have agreed upon is the need to “get it right.” The problem is no one has agreed on what that means …. For its part, the Ontario government, which stands to gain billions in royalties from the potential development, moved swiftly to assure would-be investors the province is still open for business and that the potential in the Ring of Fire is alive.   But it has been anything but swift when it comes to action. More than a decade after discovering riches in the frozen muskeg of the north, no one has been able to penetrate either the earth or ill-defined regulatory walls …. It is a wake-up call that should be answered not with dwelling on what went awry, but instead determining, once and for all, what it actually means to “get it right” in the Ring of Fire.”  Source

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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