Ring of Fire News


What's up with the biggest thing happening in mining in NW Ontario?

Habemus (start of) RoF Development Corporation!

This just out:

“Ontario has taken another step to drive progress in the Ring of Fire region, delivering on its July 3, 2014 commitment to establish a development corporation within 60 days. With headquarters to be located in Thunder Bay, the ROF Infrastructure Development Corporation (ROFIDC) will work to bring First Nations and the public and private sectors together to create partnerships and facilitate investment decisions in strategic transportation infrastructure ….”

A few more details from here and here ….

  • What’s the Corporation do?  “ROFIDC’s role is to: Encourage and assist exploration for and development of mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire by financing, building, operating and maintaining strategic transportation infrastructure including industrial and community access roads; Engage and consult with industry, government and aboriginal communities; Negotiate and facilitate agreements among key partners; Promote and foster economic development opportunities connected to exploration and development of mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire for First Nations located in the region as well as aboriginal and non-aboriginal persons and communities throughout the province”
  • Who’s on the board for now?  Ehren Cory, Executive Director for Infrastructure Ontario’s (IO) Transaction Structuring Risk and Commercial Projects division …. Rob Dowler, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for Economic Environment Justice and Intergovernmental Policy in Ontario’s Cabinet Office …. Linda McAusland, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Administrative Officer for the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) …. (and) Bill Thornton, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) of the Northern Development Division for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines”
  • When’s the full board going to be assembled?  “The board may be expanded to include additional directors as appropriate.”
  • How about that $1B dollars?  “The (Ontario) government has committed to provide up to $1 billion for strategic transportation in the Ring of Fire. The province expects that other partners, including industry and the federal government, will also contribute.”

 All before the 1 September 2014 deadline ….



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Ring of Fire News – August 26, 2014

  • Canada’s mines & energy ministers gathering in Sudbury  “The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, is co-chairing the annual Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference (EMMC) from August 24 to 26. This conference brings together federal, provincial and territorial ministers to discuss cooperation and opportunities related to energy and mines. This year’s EMMC is also co-chaired by Ontario’s Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy ….”
  • Canada’s NatRes Minister Greg Rickford: Not ready to pitch money into RoF infrastructure  “The federal government is not ready to make a $1-billion commitment to Ring of Fire infrastructure, said Greg Rickford, Canada’s minister of natural resources and FedNor. He made the statement in French, responding to a question from French media in Sudbury. Rickford said the feds have already made investments in the nearby First Nations to increase their educational opportunities. He said future federal funding for the Ring of Fire will need to be tied to specific projects with precise goals. “We’re obviously quite hopeful about what the Ring of Fire offers,” he said. “Not just in terms of its extraction activities, but the actual legacy of creating the infrastructure required to support this.” ….”
  • More from Rickford:  The Ontario Government should stay focused on deciding on a transportation corridor to get to the Ring of Fire and reaching revenue agreements with first nations before worrying about striking deals with the federal government on infrastructure projects. Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says the federal government is already involved in training and local infrastructure programs on first nations that will get people and communities ready when the area is opened to development ….”
  • Ontario’s mines minister Michael Gravelle: We’re still working on that Development Corporation thingy (even if the deadline’s September 1, 2014)   “While Michael Gravelle wasn’t ready to unveil a development corporation for the Ring of Fire yesterday, the Northern Development and Mines minister did tell an audience of policymakers and industry leaders from across Canada that action on this front is looming. “We are working very hard, right now, to get a corporation established and I will have an update on that very, very soon,” said Gravelle, during a keynote address at the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference at College Boreal. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne earlier promised her government would create a corporation to guide development of the James Bay chromite deposits within 60 days of the July 3 throne speech — in other words, by early September — and Gravelle said this remains the plan. “We will meet the commitment,” he pledged. Addressing federal colleague Greg Rickford, the Natural Resources minister and minister for FedNor, Gravelle said he looked forward “to having a more substantive conversation with you once we have the details in place on a development corporation.” ….”
  • (Not much) more on the RoF dev corp  “Mines Minister says province will meet early September deadline to establish corporation. Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said the province is not yet ready to announce a development corporation to lead infrastructure decisions around the Ring of Fire, despite a nearing self-imposed deadline. Gravelle was not able to share new information regarding the long-awaited development corporation at the 2014 Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in Sudbury ….” 
  • Webequie First Nation, one of the communities closest to the dormant Ring of Fire mineral camps, has reached an agreement with the Ontario government to do a community-based land use plan. A news release from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said a signing ceremony for the terms of reference was signed in the community on Aug. 21. The ministry’s land use planning process involves identifying areas that are both suitable and off-limits for resource development. In a statement, Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse wants a partnership with the government that respect their Aboriginal and treaty rights, including having a say on how their lands and resources will be developed. “Webequie’s primary objective is to ensure our community’s interests are protected now and for the future, including our traditional activities and values. We’re hopeful this process will help achieve these goals.” ….”
  • More environmental assessment training for First Nations  “This week, over 35 delegates from the Matawa and Mushkegowuk Nations will gather in Wahnapitae First Nation. The delegates are participating in a workshop organized by the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) and Four Rivers, Matawa’s environment office. The environmental training builds on the Chiefs of Ontario’s 2013 Environmental Assessment toolkit which offers high-level technical staff the opportunity to work with leading industry professionals and enable community experts to learn more about mining and environmental assessment processes. Participants will visit several mining sites in the area, attend workshops focused on negotiating skills and learn more about the job opportunities, training, and environmental considerations central to development in the Ring of Fire region ….”
  • James Bay area First Nations trying for a piece of the action  “The Mushkegowuk Council has announced they will coordinate the development of their business case in support of a Ring of Fire rail, sea port, fibre-optic, and energy transportation corridor through an Aboriginal-led-alliance. “We now have the experience, people, credibility and knowledge to take an active role in leading the development of infrastructure corridors. We have learned from our mistakes and we have the confidence from our successes” said Deputy Grand Chief Leo Friday. Deputy Grand Chief Leo Friday, on behalf of Mushkegowuk Council, announced to the Matawa Council of Chiefs at their annual general meeting on July 31st, 2014 that Mushkegowuk is fully supportive of Matawa’s interests in the Ring of Fire …. In the spirit of our joint declaration between Matawa and Mushkegowuk Chiefs, Mushkegowuk Council offered the Matawa Council of Chiefs to jointly develop sustainable infrastructure opportunities to unlock the economic potential of the Ring of Fire while safeguard ing the historic rivers of the Matawa and Mushkegowuk homelands ….”
  • Lawyer’s commentary on who can help bring together all the players, given how governments have been doing so far  “…. it is easy to see why governments and project proponents are at a standstill to lead the development of providing access to the Ring of Fire. Who can co-ordinate such a politically and legally complicated process? The mayors of northern Ontario municipalities are trying their best to coalesce an alliance of regional stakeholders but their clout is limited. A solution may lie with First Nations leadership ….”


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Ring of Fire News – August 13, 2014

  • “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, an iron ore and coal producer, (announced) that Lourenco Goncalves, a former steel company executive, was named to run the company after activist investor Casablanca Capital triumphed in a proxy battle.  Out is Gary Halverson of Sudbury as the company’s CEO.  The Cliffs board of directors named Goncalves as chairman, president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.  Goncalves was the preferred CEO candidate of Casablanca, the hedge fund investor that last week succeeded in getting a majority of its nominees appointed to the board.  Goncalves, a former CEO of Metals USA Holdings Corp, a manufacturer of steel and other metals, said in a statement he intended to refocus Cliffs “on a new strategic path” that builds on its strengths.  Analysts said Goncalves could pursue the sale of three of the company’s four operating segments: its Asia-Pacific iron ore business, its eastern Canadian iron ore operations and North American coal unit.  In an interview with Reuters in February, Goncalves said he would focus on supplying iron ore to steelmakers in the United States, not selling into the competitive global iron ore market, if he became Cliffs CEO ….” – more on the new CEO here and here
  • Glass-is-half-full assessment of shake-up @ Cliffs  “A boardroom shake-up at Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. has raised the likelihood that its international assets will hit the market, creating some intriguing buying opportunities for Canadian miners in their own backyard ….”
  • Glass-is-half-empty assessment  “The end of Cliffs in the Ring of Fire?”
  • Mining lawyer/analyst uses the baseball analogy on the Cliffs victory of sorts  “…. the infield looks like this: Cliffs has just hit a single, the environmental review is playing second base, First Nations are defending third, and Minister Mauro is umpiring behind home plate. And Cliffs’ dugout is in disarray with new management taking over the franchise back at headquarters. opefully Cliffs will make it around the bases. If and when they do, they will almost certainly have rewritten the project rulebook for mining in Ontario.  hat’s because the latest ruling stands as a legal primer, a testament to the fact that apparently everyone involved in the administration of mining claims in Ontario needed to go back to Mining 101 for a refresher course in order to do their jobs …”
  • More on the latest court outcomes  “A mining industry observer says a recent court ruling will do nothing to spur development in the Ring of Fire.  A divisional court ruled last week that Cliffs Natural Resources may apply to the province to build a road over KWG Resources’ land.  KWG had been withholding its consent.  Cliffs has said it wants to build a road to transport ore from the Ring of Fire in the Northwest.  In an interview last week, Cliffs vice-president Bill Boor said the decision was reason for optimism for Sudburians.  The company has floated the idea of a chromite smelter in Capreol.  But the head of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association said Cliffs still has to satisfy the minister, negotiate with Aboriginal groups and complete environmental assessments.  “If it’s a good step, I’m not sure for whom,” Dick Destefano said.  “But it seems to open up another avenue for discussion — which means another delay and another discussion, and another study.” ….” – more on the “Cliffs wins its road fight (sort of)” decision here
  • Another editorial reminder about all  the other players still in the Ring of Fire game  “What a difference a year makes. In 2013, Northwestern Ontario communities were giddy at the prospect of getting in on the tremendous economic opportunities connected to the Ring of Fire mining belt. Thunder Bay and Sudbury were fiercely competing to be the site of a processing facility while Greenstone and other centres were pitching themselves as logical transportation hubs.  Then the big player walked away. For a variety of reasons — provincial indecision, First Nations objections, competitors’ alternatives, falling commodity and stock prices — Cliffs Natural Resources ended its substantial exploration activities. A coup of sorts among shareholders put in place a new CEO who agreed to return Cliffs’ attention to its iron ore business which Thunder Bay area residents can see when they drive through northern Minnesota.  While Cliffs hasn’t abandoned its stake in the Ring’s massive chromite deposit other companies that remain active in the region are now getting all the attention ….”
  • Latest on Ontario’s promised $1B for Ring of Fire infrastructure  “The Minister of Northern Development and Mines believes stable federal funding for infrastructure is needed to ensure the province’s economic growth. But the province will still spend upwards of $1 billion on infrastructure for the Ring of Fire with, or without, federal backing …. Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, said the federal government needs to recognize that it plays an important role when it comes to Ontario’s infrastructure needs …. He repeated the call for Ottawa to match the $1 billion the province has already promised to develop the Ring of Fire — the largest mineral discovery in more than a century. The province has promised to keep the billion-dollar investment with or without federal support ….”
  • Think tank analyst:  power rates’ll affect chances of Ring of Fire development  “When I was a youngster, we had a neighbour who kept a jar of coins. When kids would visit, he’d offer the jar and say, “take as many as you like.” If you grabbed too many, your bulging fist wouldn’t make it through the neck of the jar. Lesson learned.  As the development of the Ring of Fire moves ahead, those involved will need to make complicated decisions on how much of the Ring’s wealth to keep in Ontario and how much to let go …. Right now, it’s debatable whether the Ring’s chromite will ever see an Ontario smelter due to provincial electrical costs ….”
  • First Nation training to take advantage of the Ring of Fire continues  “This year’s science and environment workshops at the Nibinamik Youth Retreat were part of the training for the RoFATA Environmental Monitoring Training Program.  “(The youth) really enjoyed it,” said Harry Bunting, a Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance (RoFATA) environmental monitoring student from Constance Lake. “They learned quite a bit actually, and so did I. I was able to do some sampling of fish, learned how to age a fish and what to do when you are sampling and doing your protocols to help assess the water quality and assess the environment itself.”  The Environmental Monitoring Training Program is being delivered by Four Rivers Matawa Environmental Services Group at the Matawa First Nations building in Thunder Bay ….”


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Ring of Fire News – August 2, 2014



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