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Ring of Fire News – January 7, 2014

  • Welcome back – hope Santa was good for you, and that 2014 is a great year for you as well!
  • More on Noront’s filing of project paperwork  “Well, here we are in a new year, with the possibilities stretching out before us like a field of freshly fallen snow.  There was plenty of the usual action over the holiday season. And we’ll try to sort through the highlights over the course of the week.  But one of the most compelling events was the announcement by Noront Resources that it has completed an Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Assessment Report for the Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper-PGM project in Ontario’s far northern Ring of Fire mineral zone.  In a December 20 release, the Toronto-based junior said a draft copy would be circulated to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Ontario Ministry of Environment. A copy of the draft report is also available on the company’s website. The company says all comments will be considered before a formal submission in early 2014.  Alan Coutts, Noront’s new CEO, called completion of the report “an important milestone” for the company.  “We believe that Eagle’s Nest will be the first mine developed in the Ring of Fire and this brings us one step closer toward achieving that goal,” he said in the release.  The report includes baseline environmental studies that examine the mine site, an east-west access road corridor and a railcar loading site on the CN mainline.  Of particular interest to Ring of Fire neighbours will be the proposed all-season road that would connect the Eagle’s Nest site directly to an existing winter road south of the Webequie First Nation reserve. It would run along the winter road corridor to the provincial highway network north of Pickle Lake, then travel south on Highway 599 to a trans-load facility to be established near Savant Lake.  Construction is expected to take three years, starting with a new winter road from Webequie Junction to the mine site that “would allow for the staging of equipment and supplies” for mine site development and road construction.  Several First Nations – Webequie, Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Eabametoong, Mishkeegogamang and the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen – as well as the communities of Pickle Lake and Savant Lake/Sioux Lookout, stand to benefit from the choice of an east-west route ….”
  • Action elsewhere in the Ring of Fire  Bold Ventures Inc. and KWG Resources Inc. are pleased to report that KWG is funding a further $2 million program under its agreement to earn from Bold an 80% interest in any chromite discovered within the claims optioned by Bold from Fancamp Exploration Ltd. hosting the Black Horse chromite occurrence. KWG may also earn a 20% interest in any other metals discovered on the property (please see the details of the option earn in agreements as described in Bold’s press release dated March 4, 2013 or on the Bold website (www.boldventuresinc.com) or at the KWG website (www.kwgresources.com)).  As recommended in the 43-101 report commissioned by KWG and prepared to document the inferred chromite resource following last winter’s drilling program, the possible down-dip extension of the resource will be tested with a series of deep holes. Orbit Garant Drilling Services Inc. has been awarded the drilling contract to utilize up to three drills. Mobilization is underway and drilling is anticipated to commence shortly ….”
  • KWG Resources Increased Funding ApprovalKWG Resources Inc. has received conditional listing approval for an increase to $2,500,000 of its private placement of flow-through units (“Units”) which is extended to February 7, 2014. 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 ….”
  • The PM on resource projects as opportunities for First Nations  “Resource development projects offer First Nations “an unprecedented opportunity” to gain economic benefits and resolve social issues in their communities, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during an informal discussion at the Vancouver Board of Trade Monday.  Harper, in response to questions from board of trade CEO Iain Black, vowed that his government would not approve pipeline projects “unless they meet the highest standards of environmental protection.” Ottawa will also live up to its constitutional obligation to consult with First Nations on resource development, he said.  However, the prime minister also urged aboriginal communities to consider more than issues of rights and title when addressing development projects.  “If handled correctly, (resource development offers) an unprecedented opportunity for aboriginal people and their communities to join the mainstream of the Canadian economy,” Harper said, “without which, in my judgment, we won’t make progress on all of the other things we need to make progress on in those communities.” ….”
  • Kenora MP and Minister of State for Science and Technology, FedNor and minister responsible for the Ring of Fire Greg Rickford says he’s excited about the coming year. He says one of the highlights in the new year will be a renewed focus on mining exploration in the Ring of Fire.  “I’ve had some conversations quite recently with Minister Gravelle and I have expressed my concerns that the way that we’ve received our correspondence and the politicization of the Ring of Fire hasn’t been the way we normally have worked together, specifically Minister Gravelle,” he said ….”
  • The federal government may struggle to keep up with a growing need for mental-health and other social services in First Nations communities located within a massive mineral find in northern Ontario, according to a newly released document.  Senior officials at Health Canada were cautioned last May that their existing social programs to help aboriginal communities in the Ring of Fire may not be sufficient to meet increased demand.  “Though supports are available, it is not clear whether current programming will be sufficient to meet emerging needs,” says a memo to the deputy and associate deputy ministers ….”
  • Michael Gravelle wasn’t sharing insider information about how talks are progressing between the government of Ontario and First Nations closest to the Ring of Fire.  But he telegraphed some heavy hints in an end-of-year conversation about the development of the rich chromite deposits located 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.  Consultations being led by retired supreme court justice Frank Iacobucci for the province and former Ontario New Democrat premier and federal Liberal leader Bob Rae representing the Matawa Tribal Council are vital part to moving the Ring of Fire forward, said Gravelle.  They are progressing well, the minister of Northern Development and Mines said several times during a telephone interview with The Sudbury Star.  And while didn’t want to “presume the end of the discussions” between the first nations and the province, Gravelle said he hopes his government will be in a position “very soon” to announce a framework agreement between the two parties.  “That will be, quite frankly, an historic day,” said Gravelle. “It will be a way of signalling how much more work we have to do in the future, but it will be a very strong piece of the process.”  If he could spend more time on something it would be trying to help people understand how important these consultations are in the overall success of the Ring of Fire, said Gravelle. That’s why “we’ve been so focused on having Mr. Rae and Mr. Iacobucci work together well.” ….”
  • One former MP’s/columnist’s wish list for 2014  “…. we need revenue-sharing agreements between aboriginals and resource companies. Ontario’s Ring of Fire and scores of other projects have been delayed or killed while governments, companies and band councils trip over each other ….”
  • An environmental group’s 2014 prediction for the Ring of Fire  “…. Despite promises by the Ontario government to get it right, major mining and infrastructure proposals are moving forward in the Ring of Fire area without a broader, regional-level environmental assessment. Without such an inclusive and measured approach, there is expected to be uncertainty and challenges between mining companies, First Nation communities, and the provincial and federal governments. Ecosystems will be at risk. A broader process is needed because mining here is expected to impact at least three large watersheds and more than 15 First Nation communities.  While some have expressed frustration, the reality is this is a massive undertaking involving a constellation of legal, environmental, economic, political and Aboriginal issues. If Ontario leads the way with a strategic regional environmental assessment and local First Nations negotiate strong agreements, the prize could be a model for the world of how to blend indigenous rights, environment, and economy into a process that actually works. This could be a major victory for the future of Canada’s boreal ecosystem ….”
  • Some glass-half-full analysis  “Hopes for development of the promising $60-billion Ring of Fire mineral belt in northwestern Ontario took a heavy blow in November but they aren’t dead yet.  Just weeks after Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. stunned the province by suspending its $3.3 billion project, a Toronto mining company is taking a major step forward.  Noront Resources Ltd., the second-largest player after Cliffs, has completed studies required for an environmental assessment of its plan to develop the Eagle’s Nest deposit of high-grade nickel, copper, platinum and palladium estimated to be worth $700 million ….”
  • Glass-half-empty analysis from National Post  Ring of Fire debacle shows why big mineral discoveries can be worth so little
  • More glass-half-empty analysis  “…. The Ring of Fire mineral deposit was the most exciting mining project to hit Northern Ontario – but became a story of unfulfilled promise.  The deposit of chromite, nickel, gold and other minerals was supposed to create jobs as well as billions of dollars in revenue. But a lack of infrastructure, regulatory delays, bickering among junior miners as well as weak commodity prices have brought development to a near-halt.  One of the companies trying to build a chromite mine, U.S.-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., stopped work on its project due to delays and stalled talks with the government ….”
  • A speck of optimism about Cliffs“One stock that might be an intriguing choice for investors right now is Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.  This is because this security in the Minerals and Metals industry space is seeing solid earnings estimate revision activity, and is in great company from a Zacks Industry Rank perspective.  This is important because, often times, a rising tide will lift all boats in an industry, as there can be broad trends taking place in a segment that are boosting securities across the board. This is arguably taking place in the Minerals and Metals industry space as it currently has a Zacks Industry Rank of 26 out of more than 250 industries, suggesting it is well-positioned from this perspective, especially when compared to other segments out there ….”more
  • Rae on the two big “must have’s” for development in partnership with First Nations  “First Nations peoples refuse to be “marginalized” and will demand their share of the riches associated with a proposed mineral development project in northern Ontario, says Bob Rae.  The former senior politician, now chief negotiator for the Matawa Tribal Council, told Postmedia News in an interview that the so-called Ring of Fire project has great potential for both the Canadian economy and for indigenous peoples in the region.  He stressed that two critical issues are on the table if the minerals are to be dug out of the ground: First Nations must be comfortable with the long-term environmental impact; and must see improvements to their education and training and have a share of mineral royalties ….”
  • A provincial plan to access the Ring of Fire may be lacking, but for almost three years the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has been quietly working on a major pan-northern planning exercise to support future regional economic developmentKnown as the Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy, the multi-year study is directly tied into the Liberal government’s implementation of the Northern Growth Plan.  “It’s definitely a first for the MTO in Northern Ontario,” said Tija Dirks, the ministry’s director of transportation planning, of the comprehensive process which began in 2011 ….”

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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