Chromite mine, Capreol smelter uncertain: Cliffs – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – September 24, 2013)

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

Three months after Cliffs Natural Resources stopped work on the Ring of Fire, the company has hit another roadblock.

Its application for an easement over claims staked by KWG was rejected two weeks ago. A Cliffs’ official isn’t sure where the company will go from here, or when it can get the project up and running.

“Unless a solution to that is found, it’s kind of a showstopper, potentially,” Bill Boor, the senior vice-president of global ferroalloys, said Monday. “I’m not saying that we’re resigned to that fact – we’re trying to pursue what options are available – but this ruling … as it stands today (means) we don’t have the land to develop the project.”

Cliffs made the request to the Ontario and Mining Lands Commissioner for exclusive rights to an area from the Ring of Fire to Nakina, a town about 260 kilometres from Thunder Bay. KWG, as well as a number of smaller mining companies, have staked claim to portions of that region.

Cliffs wants the land to build a road, while KWG is pushing for a rail line out of the Ring. “We were fairly confident that it made sense to allow the easement application to go forward, so I was a bit surprised by the decision,” said Boor, adding it’s possible they will appeal the ruling.

“I think we might appeal, just to reserve the position in the appeal process. I’m hesitant about it because it’s too lengthy of a process to really work right now. My expectation, in rough terms, is that it could take a year or so to get through an appeal process, and then you’re hoping you get a supportive ruling out of that. In order to keep this project on course, that’s just too long. It’s just not a very good practical solution.

“I’ve been told by our legal council that it would be … in the range of six to eight months to get to a hearing on the appeal.”

In June, Cliffs announced it was suspending the project, which includes a chromite smelter in Capreol, saying it had done all it could on the file without the government taking action. In May 2012, Cliffs’ President Joseph Carrabba said he hoped to break ground on the project this year and open in 2015. That was later changed to 2016, then 2017.

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