Feud over Ring [of Fire transportation] link drags on – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – March 18, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Two companies with high stakes in the rich Ring of Fire are awaiting a decision from a two-person tribunal that’s likely months away — and which could set a precedent when it is delivered.

The tribunal from the Mining and Lands Commissioner sat for seven days of hearings last month, listening to arguments from three lawyers from each of Cliffs Natural Resources and Canada Chrome Corporation, a subsidiary of KWG Resources Inc.

The application from Cliffs seeks an order for the Ministry of Natural Resources to grant an easement to Clevelandbased Cliffs, under the Public Lands Act, to lands claimed by CCC.

The Canadian company won’t grant consent to Cliffs to build an all-seasons road on lands it claimed after the massive chromite deposits of the Ring of Fire were discovered in 2007.

Part-time business partners, KWG has a 30% interest in the Big Daddy chromite deposit in which Cliffs has a 70% interest. But other than sharing ownership of that resource, the companies don’t see eye to eye on much else. “It’s really a competition between two companies for a link to a chromite deposit, that’s what it is,” said Daniel Pascoe, registrar/mediator with the Office of the Mining and Lands Commissioner.

The application was originally filed by Cliffs on Feb. 29, 2012.

“Obviously,” said Pascoe, “when you have something that’s a year old and it’s hotly contested by two teams of three lawyers each, and you’ve got innumerable pieces of correspondence,” it’s complex and the matter won’t be decided overnight.

Some tribunals hear cases for agencies, boards and commissions, and “pump out one-or two-page decisions,” but his office needs time to make its ruling and issue a decision that could be 50 or 80 “or who knows” how many pages, said Pascoe.

The tribunal wrapped up two weeks of hearings a month ago, and Pascoe was predicting then it could take months before it decided whether to order the Ministry of Natural Resources to grant the easement.

Frank Smeenk, a lawyer, is president and chief executive officer of Toronto-based KWG Resources Inc.

The two-person tribunal that heard the application from Cliffs is “deciding on a new frontier. (It’s) a major decision,” said Smeenk.

“Whatever the decision is, it will be making law, setting a precedent.”

For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/03/18/feud-over-ring-link-drags-on