Cliffs delays Ring of Fire project – by Sebastien Perth (Sudbury Star – June 13, 2013)

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

Its ambitious US$3.4-billion plan to open a mine in northwestern Ontario and a smelter in Sudbury by the middle of the decade is in tatters, Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc. announced Wednesday.

The company is temporarily suspending its environmental assessment activities in the Ring of Fire. With the delay comes the loss of close to 1,000 new jobs, including 400 to 500 at a chromite smelter that was to be built near Capreol.

Cliffs Chromite Ontario — a subsidiary of Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources — cited difficulty in resolving a number of issues with the provincial government for the delay.

Bill Boor, senior vice president of global ferroalloys for Cliffs, said the company has done as much as it can and it’s now up to the Ontario government to get the project going again.

“What we did this morning was acknowledge where we are in the process,” Boor said. “It’s a lot less a decision on the part of Cliffs than an acknowledgment that we’ve run out of things that we can do without resolutions of these items.” The Ring of Fire is a mineral-rich area located in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario that is now being extensively explored.

Cliffs wants to mine chromite at its Black Thor deposit in northwestern Ontario. It would then ship the chromite to the Capreol smelter, where it would be refined into ferrochrome, which is used to make stainless steel.

Boor said four major issues are holding things up:

. Delayed approval of the terms of reference for the provincial Environmental Assessment process.

. Uncertainty regarding the federal Environmental Assessment process due to a judicial challenge by a number of the First Nations in the Ring of Fire area.

. Unresolved land surface rights issues following a February Mining and Land Commissioner hearing.

. Unfinished agreements with the Ontario government that are critical to the project’s economic viability.

To move ahead, Cliffs said it must receive provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals, negotiate mutually acceptable agreements with impacted First Nation communities, work with governments to address the lack of infrastructure in the Ring of Fire and complete its commercial and technical feasibility studies.

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