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

#RingOfFire (RoF) News – March 3, 2015

  • More on the “federal-provincial money for a road to Pickle Lake study” story  “The Ring of Fire mining development area in northern Ontario is getting a $785,000 boost as the federal and provincial governments announce a joint study of an all-weather road for the isolated region.  Federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford made the announcement Sunday at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada annual convention in Toronto. Ottawa and Queen’s Park will each pay for half the cost.  The study will look at a “transportation corridor” that would connect the area of mineral deposits and four remote First Nations (Webequie, Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Nibinamik) to Pickle Lake, Ontario, about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.  “We ought not to be looking at the Ring of Fire as a mine in the middle of nowhere,” Rickford said. “It’s the opportunity to hook First Nations communities up, to be anchored by other towns and cities in the region and be physically connected.” ….”  – moremoremoremoremore – more
  • Noront Resources:  Good news, this!  “Noront Resources Ltd. is pleased that the Federal and Provincial governments have agreed to jointly invest funds to further economic development and community access in Northwestern Ontario.  “It is essential that benefits associated with mine development accrue to local communities in a way that will create long-term shared value,” said Noront President & CEO Alan Coutts. “This funding will help First Nation communities in the Ring of Fire benefit from construction of Noront’s East-West access road ….”
  • Thunder Bay’s Chamber of Commerce:  Pretty good news, this!  “…. Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce President Charla Robinson says it is a step forward along the path ….”
  • The Wildlands League:  Nice, but what about the longer term/bigger picture?  “Government funding for a $785,000 study of a road to the Ring of Fire is a “welcome move” for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, but the environmental group says more needs to be done to look at the region-wide impacts of the proposed mining development in northern Ontario …. The environmental group hopes it acts as a “springboard” for further study and a comprehensive, region-wide development plan for the nickel and chromite deposits in northern Ontario’s James Bay lowlands ….”
  • Meanwhile, a nice map of infrastructure and proposed infrastructure around the RoF now available courtesy of the Northern Policy Institute (NPI) here
  • NPI guy makes the case for all-season roads for the RoF  “What is the one thing that would make living in Ontario’s far North communities better?  If you asked that question to seven people knowledgeable about the North, you might very well get seven different answers. Clean drinking water. Functional sewer systems. Quality education. Improved health services. Reliable electricity. Healthy food at affordable prices. Better housing.  To a large degree, this wish list stems from the fact that Ontario’s far North communities are accessible only by air for most of the year. These challenges rarely exist for communities with road access. Astronomically high costs are attached to anyone or anything that has to fly to these places. If the weather cooperates, a winter ice road might provide a month or two of access in every year. There have been poor weather conditions in recent years attributed to global warming. If the pattern continues, winter road construction and use will be progressively problematic.  So what is the one thing that would make living in the far North better? Answer: a network of year-round roads ….”
  • “The Grand Chief of the Mushkegowuk Council is lobbying for industry and government support in Toronto this week, at the prospectors and developers conference, for a wide-ranging set of proposals to serve the Ring of Fire development.  Lawrence Martin says Cree-owned Five Nations Energy could expand to bring power to the James Bay Coast as well as the Ring of Fire. Alongside this project, Martin wants to see public and private partnerships to bring safe water and housing to the communities.  The Mushkegowuk Council represents eight Cree communities along the James Bay Coast as well as Cochrane and Chapleau ….”
  • Meanwhile, some question Mushkegowuk’s priorities  “….While the Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Lawrence Martin is wanting to move the proposed rail and seaport at such great speed and velocity, the issue of (missing and murdered indigenous women) remains a big problem that isn’t prioritized ….”
  • December 2013:  Lakehead University Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining & Exploration holds a policy conference on “the Role of Government Policy in Sustainable Mining Development”  February 2015:  Lakehead University Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining & Exploration publishes a paper from said policy conference, mentioning, in part, “…. On infrastructure in the Ring of fire, there was agreement that both levels of government need to develop plans that balance the needs of industry with those of local Aboriginal communities. But it is also necessary to have a realistic picture of potential development projects and what they might contribute to the northern economy over time.  Public investments in infrastructure need to be guaranteed by private sector investment and development in individual projects ….”
  • In other “reports just out” news …. The Working Group on Natural Resources Development, set up as an independent body by the Assembly of First Nations and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada today released its final report, Advancing Positive, Impactful Change. The report builds on discussions with First Nations leaders, industry and experts and sets out key themes and recommendations outlining potential ways to increase First Nations participation in natural resources development projects …. the report recommends that the dialogue on First Nations involvement in natural resource development be taken up nationally by governments and First Nations across Canada, with the support of experts, industry, and non-governmental organizations. This is necessary for moving forward on key issues like resource revenue sharing and other important matters ….”“FIRST NATIONS AND NATURAL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT:  Advancing Positive, Impactful Change” (PDF) – Globe & Mail
  • And what’s the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellgarde saying about this latest report?  “This is an issue that is critical to First Nations and all Canadians and any movement forward must respect and recognize First Nations rights and title.  First Nations need to be involved in resource development during all phases. We bring the added element of ensuring the protection of lands and waters.  Sustainable economic development is what we want. I encourage First Nations to review the report and consider next steps consistent with our right to self-determination.  I look forward to continuing the conversation and dialogue around the issues raised in this report including the implications for rights and title.” 

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