Don’t blame feds, says minister – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – November 22, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – During a stop in Timmins on Friday, the federal minister responsible for the Ring of Fire gave pointed answers as to who he thought was to blame for Cliffs Natural Resources pulling out of its proposed multi-billion dollar chromite mining project.

Greg Rickford (Conservative – Kenora), federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, and FedNor, said the management of an intra-company land ownership conflict between Cliffs and KWG Resources Inc. is at the top of the list of reasons why the project was put on hold.

Since Ontario’s mining and land commissioner ruled against Ohio-based Cliffs request for an easement to build an access road across KWG-owned land in September, Cliffs had threatened to indefinitely cancel the project. Rickford expanded on why he believed the decision was ultimately announced by Cliffs late Wednesday night.

“The land commissioner’s decision is the real source of the uncertainty; you can’t talk about those large-scale infrastructure projects until you know in which direction they’re going to go,” said Rickford. “This really made it complicated for (Cliffs) to understand how their road – or what road, in what direction it would take – would get to their extraction site.”

Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources, Michael Gravelle (Liberal – Thunder Bay-Superior North), revealed in early November the creation of a Ring of Fire development corporation made up of the feds, the province, mining companies and local First Nations communities.

Cliffs’ announcement to pull out of the project came just under two weeks later.

On Thursday, Gravelle said, “The province is prepared to invest in vital infrastructure and create the right climate to support development in the region.”

Rickford said he wasn’t prepared to state that companies like Cliffs and Noront were frustrated with the province about the perceived lack of progress. He did add, however, that “if you ask them, Noront and Cliffs will say they are very satisfied with the level of engagement the federal government has demonstrated on this file.”

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