‘The time is now to extend railhead into Ring of Fire’ – KWG Resources – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – July 24, 2013)


TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Given the vast potential of northern Ontario’s still-dormant Ring of Fire polymetallic region, the timing is now ideal to extend the existing provincial railway infrastructure northwards to open up the region up for mining, KWG Resources president and CEO Frank Smeenk told Mining Weekly Online on Tuesday.

He argued that the historically low prevailing interest rates, and reduced materials costs, currently provided Canada and the province with the best window of opportunity yet to construct a railway that would enable minerals to be brought to market at the lowest possible unit cost, for more than a century of expected mining in the region.

“Canadian chromite production would have to earn its place in the international market, where we would compete with the world’s leading producers South Africa, India and Kazakhstan. Critical to the success of opening up the Ring of Fire is to ensure minerals could be transported to market in the most efficient manner at the lowest possible unit costs,” Smeenk said.

Despite being JV partners in developing certain projects in the Ring of Fire, KWG and US diversified miner Cliffs Natural Resources are at loggerheads over the proposed mode of transport into the Ring of Fire. While KWG proposed a rail route to transport chromite to export markets, Cliffs had proposed an all-weather road south towards Capreol, the Sudbury area, where it had proposed to build a chromite beneficiation facility.

KWG has a 30% interest in the Big Daddy chromite deposit, located near Cliffs’ proposed $3.3-billion Black Thor chromite mine, located in the McFaulds Lake area, and also has the right to earn 80% of the Black Horse chromite project, where resources were currently being defined through a drilling programme.

KWG’s fully owned subsidiary, Canada Chrome, had staked claims and conducted an extensive C$15-million surveying and soil testing programme for the engineering and construction of a railroad to the Ring of Fire from Nakina, where the Trans Canada line of the Canadian National Railway can be connected.

In August 2012, Canada Chrome said it was pushing ahead with its proposed 300 km railway and had applied to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources for 32 aggregate permits on sites located along a string of claims that could form the bed of its proposed railway. The claims on the northern half cover the only ridge of high ground where road and rail is constructible.

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