Firm deal from Ont. needed [for Ring of Fire]: Cliffs VP – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – March 18, 2013)

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

The point man for Cliffs Natural Resources’ holdings in the Ring of Fire understands a change of government can slow negotiations.

But Bill Boor is looking to sign a “definitive document” with the province soon so his company can begin developing its Black Thor deposit.

The senior vice-president of global ferroalloys for the Cleveland-based company says when Cliffs will begin mining ore from the Ring of Fire is really out of his control. The company had hoped to start production by 2015 and has moved that date back a year at least to 2016.

Boor said Cliffs president and chief executive officer Joseph Car rabba told investors in February it would be “speculative” to say when the company would begin mining “because the uncertainties we need to get through are not completely in our control right now. We need help.”

One of the first things Cliffs is waiting on is for a tribunal of the Mining and Lands Commissioner to approve its application so the Ministry of Natural Resources can grant the company an easement to build an all-seasons’ road over claims staked by Canada Chrome, a KWG Resources Inc. Subsidiary.

That has to be res olved because Cliffs “can’t keep investing in a project it doesn’t have a path to infrastructure.”

Cliffs also must complete its feasibility study, and it’s on target to do that by the summer or early fall, said Boor.

The third piece is nailing down a deal with the province.

Last May, when Cliffs announced plans to build a $1.8-billion ferrochrome processing plant at the former Moose Mountain Mine, near Capreol, it signed an agreement of terms, which Boor calls “essentially a non-binding tertiary agreement.

“Cliffs said, ‘ You know what? We have enough confidence that we’ll be able to turn this into a definitive document, that we want to clear it up and say we’re going to Sudbury.’ ”

Cliffs worked with the province from May of last year until former Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his resignation in October to try to get that definitive document in place.

The good news, said Boor, is Cliffs and the province “didn’t waste time. We went to work right after that agreement (in May), and so we’ve been working for quite a few months now.”

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