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Northern Ontario (2 x) Leaders’ Debate on Ring of Fire

I had a chance to attend the Ontario leaders’ debate in Thunder Bay hosted by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce and the Northern Ontario Development Network.  I attended as a private citizen, paying my own conference fee.  In case you hadn’t already heard in the news, Ontario Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak and Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath were there, but Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty wasn’t.

I took a few notes, and thought I’d share some Ring of Fire highlights with you from the hour-long debate.

Hudak’s verbal commitments during the debate:

  • Sharing “mining tax revenues” on all new mines, as well as stumpage fees, with “host First Nations and host municipalities” (“host” is a new term to me in this context – it’s not in the northern platform document, and wasn’t explained in the debate)
  • Revoking the Far North Act  (without offering any specific alternative other than to say the focus will be on creating jobs, not “catering to southern Ontario special interests) – accused Horwath of offering a “Far North Act Junior” as an alternative
  • Having the Minister of Northern Development manage development in the Ring of Fire instead of what he referred to in a radio interview earlier in the day as a bureaucrat “hidden away in the system” (my recollection of the wording, not verbatim), referring to Ontario’s Ring of Fire co-ordinator
  • Being, if elected Premier, the “lead salesman” of the Ring of Fire’s benefits to Ontario and Canada
  • Continuing Northern Ontario Heritage Fund at $100M/year

 

Horwath verbal commitments during debate:

  • Revoking the Far North Act (without offering any specific alternative other than to say is to have FNs at the table, with everyone working together, not having different interests competing against each other)
  • Creating a $35M infrastructure fund, which could be a source of funds for infrastructure needed for developing the Ring of Fire
  • Continuing Northern Ontario Heritage Fund at $100M/year
  • Ensuring resources extracted in northern Ontario are processed in northern Ontario
  • Reducing electricity costs, in part, by re-combining five (?) entities that used to make up Ontario Hydro

If you were there, I’d love your comments on the exchange.

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Ring of Fire News – 29 Aug 11

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  • Ontario names Ring of Fire Advisory Council, opens Ring of Fire office in Thunder Bay   The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry has opened a Ring of Fire Office on James Street in Thunder Bay.  Managing the office will be former Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund President, and Director for Aboriginal Community and Stakeholder Relations with the Ring of Fire Secretariat Harvey Yesno.  The first four members of a Ring of Fire Advisory Council have also been announced:  former Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief John Beaucage;  President of Sudbury’s Laurentian University (and former assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities) Dominic Giroux;  Ontario Mining Association president (and former Conservative Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Northern Development and Mines) Chris Hodgson; and former president of Confederation College, Patricia Lang (link to PDF of College bio).  (Sources:  Ministry news release and backgrounder, 25 Aug 11; Chronicle-Journal, 25 Aug 11; tbnewswatch.com, 25 Aug 11; Northern Ontario Business, 26 Aug 11; Wawatay News, 26 Aug 11; Sudbury Star, 26 Aug 11)
  • “Prefeasibilty study predicts 3 year payback for (Noront) Ring of Fire project – TSX-V-quoted Noront Resources on Tuesday published the results of a prefeasibility study into its Eagles Nest nickel-copper-platinum project in Ontario’s Ring of Fire, outlining a $734-million capital investment for a one-million-ton-a-year mine. The study, which Micon conducted, predicted a three-year capital payback, and gave the project a C$560-million net present value at a 6% discount rate. Noront CEO Wes Hanson said this was the first mineral reserve published for the emerging Ring of Fire camp, and that it was a “milestone” that will “accelerate meaningful discussion on infrastructure” development in the area. “It positions the company to begin negotiating downstream agreements that will provide future funding for continued development of the project without excessive shareholder dilution,” he added in a statement …. According to Hanson, Noront will complete a feasibility study on the Eagles Nest project in the first quarter next year, with first commercial production set for 2016 ….” (Sources: company news release, 23 Aug 11; miningweekly.com, 24 Aug 11; Canadian Mining Journal, 24 Aug 11)
  • Next Noront Resources annual meeting:  10 Nov 11 in Toronto (Source:  company SEDAR filing (PDF), 19 Aug 11)
  • Without the necessary transportation infrastructure, development in the Ring of Fire cannot happen, said Raymond Ferris. “They need the infrastructure,” said the Matawa First Nations’ Ring of Fire coordinator, noting a proposed railway from the Ring of Fire area to Nakina is vital. Ferris spoke about the infrastructure needs of First Nations communities surrounding the Ring of Fire Wednesday afternoon at the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation Technical Conference and Trade Show at the Valhalla Inn. “They can’t fly out the chromite; it’s too big of a bulk,” he said. “From what I hear, the railway is the cheapest mode of transportation. The road is going to be close to 400 per cent more in transporting costs.” Companies like Cliff’s Natural Resources have offered to provide money for the railway, but a company official said in June that ultimately it will be provincial infrastructure. Ferris said First Nations are also looking at taking ownership of the project …. Ferris also said it’s important for the remote communities to be involved to protect the environment and their culture ….” (Source: tbnewswatch.com, 24 Aug 11)

Summary of more open source information and sources cited (1-27 Aug 11) also available here (PDF).  All information shared here in accordance with the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act.  We’re not responsible for accuracy of original material, and inclusion of material doesn’t mean endorsement.


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