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Ring of Fire (RoF) News – December 5, 2014

  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce:  get moving on RoF, Ontario  “Ontario needs to move quickly on development of the stalled Ring of Fire mineral belt or risk losing huge economic benefits for the province when metal prices bounce back again, warns a preliminary report card by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.  “Despite the tremendous economic and social opportunities the Ring of Fire affords Ontario, progress on development has been slow,” says the consultation paper obtained by the Star Wednesday …. “Unfortunately, in the last few months, the tone of the conversation surrounding the Ring of Fire has turned net negative,” says the document, which provides a preview of the chamber’s official report card on the Ring’s progress expected in February.  “Permitting delays and seemingly interminable negotiation processes have put development a long way off. As Ontario businesses tell us over and over: There’s a greater need for urgency at the Ring of Fire,” says the report ….”
  • Ontario Conservative Party leader wanna-be Vic Fedeli presents petition in Legislature this week “I’ll be reading a petition on the Ring of Fire.  “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:  Whereas the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines granted Noront Resources an exploration permit on April 19, 2013; and Whereas this permit is for a duration of three years with possibility of a three-year renewal; and Whereas the public consultation period (EBR registry #011-8444) was held between February 26, 2013, and March 28, 2013, with no comments received; and Whereas the shareholders of this company expect the law to be upheld for Noront Resources and for this company to be allowed to explore as per the permit received;  We, the undersigned,”—there are several hundred signatures here—“petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to release the exploration permit and road permit for Noront Resources before the shareholder price is further damaged.”  I agree with this. I sign my name to this …. “
  • Meanwhile, same RoF message from Ottawa to Ontario  “Federal Natural Resources and FedNor Minister Greg Rickford remains optimistic about the future prospects for the Ring of Fire despite the slow exit of Cliffs Natural Resources from Ontario.  But the Kenora MP stuck to the federal government’s line that the province must identify “focused infrastructure projects” before Ottawa is prepared to spring for any dollars to help the Wynne government develop a transportation corridor to reach the stranded chromite and nickel deposits in the James Bay region.  “I remain confident that the province will come to understand that that’s what Northern Ontarians expect on this legacy resource development project.”  Rickford was in Sudbury Dec. 4 to announce the Community Investment Initiative for Northern Ontario, a FedNor program that sets aside $3 million for small towns and remote First Nations to hire economic development officers to advance local projects in their communities ….”
  • “Northern Ontario is getting short-changed by Ottawa when it comes to receiving funds for economic development, says MP Charlie Angus (NDP – Timmins-James Bay).  Angus said the federal Conservative government held back $11 million in economic development money for Northern Ontario over the past four years. The money would have been distributed through FedNor.  Instead, Angus said that money was returned to the federal treasury to create a surplus and be spent on other priorities.  “It would be difficult to believe there are less initiatives and business ideas coming out of Northern Ontario,” especially with opportunities on the horizon within the Ring of Fire, Angus told The Daily Press.  Development within the mineral-rich area of the James Bay lowlands appears to be “stuck in neutral” at the moment, Angus added ….”
  • Ontario’s mines minister talks up RoF (a bit) in the U.K.  “Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle shares the latest information on mining in Ontario. The Minister was in London England this week at a mining conference, Money and Mining, sharing the news on the opportunities in Ontario for mining, and economic development.  Minister Gravelle stated that in London he was a little surprised that not as many people in the conference were fully aware of the opportunities in Ontario for mining. “One of the keys is to be selling the province of Ontario,” stated Gravelle.  The Minister states that the opportunities in the mining field in Ontario are large and that there are 70 million hectares in the Northwest which are open for stalking.  On the Ring of Fire, the Minister shared how critical it is, for Ontario to “Get the Ring of Fire right”, and the steps are being taken to do just that.  Gravelle points to the historic agreement with the Matawa First Nations, and the creation of the Ring of Fire Development Corporation as some of those critical steps on the way forward ….”
  • Speaking of Northern Development and Mines, lookit who’s the new DM?  David de Launay will be the new deputy minister of Northern Development and Mines, effective Jan. 5, 2015.  He replaces George Ross, who left last summer to assume a new role with the Government of Yukon as its new deputy minister of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.  Steve Orsini, the province’s secretary to cabinet, made the announcement on Nov. 26 ….”
  • A couple of mentions of RoF in an economic discussion paper (PDF) by the Mowat Centre think tank “…. New projects and emerging sectors, such as the development of the Ring of Fire, create an opportunity for integrated labour force planning in smaller communities and improved training for Aboriginal populations …. Regions such as the Ring of Fire hold enormous potential, but require equally sizeable investments and community development if they are to yield equitable and on-going benefits ….”more here if you want to comment on this paper
  • “What’s the ideal development scenario for the Ring of Fire? Not what most of the protagonists in the long drawn out saga have proposed to date, according to Frank Smeenk, president and CEO of KWG Resources.  Forget about Cliffs Natural Resources and the $1.8 billion electrically-powered ferrochrome smelter in Sudbury. Ditto for the billion dollar plus railroad from the CN line to the chromite fields of the Ring of Fire, as proposed by Smeenk himself.  The KWG president’s latest grand scheme for the Ring of Fire hinges on a new gasfired production method for chromite, a slurry pipeline bringing the ore south to a gas reduction reactor in Nakina and a second parallel pipeline bringing natural gas north to two gas-fired electrical generating stations ….”
  • One analyst’s take  “Ring of Fire miner (Noront) may be best used as a tax-loss sale”
  • “As the holiday season draws nearer, Noront Resources’ employees are organizing the Sixth Annual Ring of Fire Christmas Fund. Over the past five years, the fund has raised more than $75,000 in donations. That ensured that each child under the age of 13 living on or off reserve in the communities of Marten Falls and Webequie First Nation received a wrapped gift at Christmas.  All of the mining community is invited to support Santa and his elves to bring presents and a festive supper to youths in three First Nations communities this year ….”
  • “Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced (Thursday) that it has terminated its previously announced cash tender offers for up to a maximum aggregate principal amount of its outstanding (i) 3.95% Senior Notes due 2018 (the “2018 Notes”), (ii) 5.90% Senior Notes due 2020 (the “March 2020 Notes”), (iii) 4.80% Senior Notes due 2020, (iv) 4.875% Senior Notes due 2021 (the “2021 Notes”) and (v) 6.25% Senior Notes due 2040 that it can purchase for up to $600.0 million in cash, excluding accrued and unpaid interest.  The Tender Offers are being terminated because the Company’s debt refinancing has been postponed due to perceived adverse market conditions ….”
  • A bit of legal beagle analysis of some old news  “On July 30, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court granted an appeal to a subsidiary of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (“Cliffs”), setting aside a decision made by the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner (“MLC”). The appeal concerned a request for an order to dispense with consent, pursuant to s. 51 of the Mining Act (Ontario) (the “Act”), for an application by Cliffs for an easement under s. 21 of the Public Lands Act. The easement would allow Cliffs to build a road to its chromite deposits in the “Ring of Fire” in northern Ontario. The proposed road would pass over Crown land containing unpatented mining claims held by Canada Chrome Corporation (“CCC”), a subsidiary of KWG Resources Inc. Section 51 of the Act requires that an applicant obtain the consent of a claim holder in order to acquire an surface rights over Crown land. CCC refused to consent to the easement on the grounds that Cliffs’ proposed road would undermine its priority to the surface rights and interfere with its plans to build a railway on the same land ….”  – alternative link for article

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