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

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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