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Updates: Nervous Noront, Who’s Who in the New Cabinet Zoo

  • First, some industry news ….
  • “The dominant company in Ontario’s “Ring of Fire” mineral belt is threatening to suspend its work, sources say, putting a big question mark over future development plans in the region. Noront Resources Ltd. has warned both the Ontario government and First Nations communities in recent days that it will stop working unless it can demonstrate some tangible progress to investors, according to sources. The company and its key lender, Resource Capital Funds, are increasingly frustrated with a lack of movement on government infrastructure commitments, First Nations agreements and other matters. The longer these issues drag on, the harder it will be for Noront to raise new capital ….”
  • “Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli is concerned the possible work stoppage in the Ring of Fire could impact North Bay mining supply businesses. Fedeli’s fears came after the Financial Post reported Noront Resources Ltd. warned the Ontario government and First Nations communities that it will stop work unless it can show some progress to its investors ….”
  • “Noront is not threatening to walk away from the Ring of Fire its CEO says. The Financial Post ran a story with anonymous sources Tuesday saying the company has threatened to walk away from its Eagle’s Nest project if it doesn’t see progress from the province and First Nations soon. Alan Coutts said that same day the company announced a new exploration program in the area with nearby First Nations as participants. “We don’t have any plans to shut down operations,” he said. “I don’t want to get into speculative stuff but we’re active.” It’s a weak market out there, especially for a junior company like Nortont but Coutts said they’ve been finding the money they need and that’s happened because they’ve shown progress. “There’s activity, there’s alignment and there’s progress in the Ring of Fire,” he said. Obviously the company would like to see firmer plans from the province on infrastructure for the project but Coutts said there are current discussions on those issues. Commitments were hard to come by from the federal government but now that the Liberals are in power, he sees more alignment between them and the province ….”
  • “Even as it starts a new exploration program in the Ring of Fire this week, the mineral belt’s lone main player admits it’s never been tougher to secure the funds for such projects. “I don’t want to sound gloom-and-doom, but it is a tough market out there and investors want to see progress,” Noront Resources CEO Alan Coutts said Wednesday. Noront has earmarked $600,000 to resume exploration in the area of its existing proposed Eagle Nest nickel mine about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Though metal prices, including nickel, are down, Coutts said the Toronto-based company remains committed to getting its mine up and running about four years from now. It’s expected to cost $700 million to build the mine. “We’re in a trough right now, but we know these things are cyclical and we want to be ready to go into production (when prices rebound),” he said. Coutts was asked to respond to a National Post story which cited an unnamed source who suggested Noront might pull out of the Ring of Fire — as did former main player Cliffs Natural Resources — if the project stalls. Coutts wouldn’t comment directly on the story, but acknowledged the company has been urging the province to make good on an earlier commitment to spend $1 billion on key RoF infrastructure, including roads and hydro ….”
  • In other news, the newest PM doesn’t seem to have named a lead Ring of Fire minister yet, but here’s a few of the new key players in Cabinet for the RoF:
  • James Carr, Minister of Natural Resources (the lead portfolio under the Conservatives);
  • Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (also Fednor Minister);
  • Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment & Climate Change (for environmental stuff);
  • Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure & Communities (to deal with that still-outstanding infrastructure question hanging out there);
  • Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (to deal with First Nations in the RoF area); and
  • Jane Philpott, Minister of Health (to help deal with at least some First Nation concerns about the potential social & health effects/needs linked to developing the RoF area).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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