Need to see details of Ring deal – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – November 27, 2013)

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

It’s been a week since Cliffs Natural Resources dropped the bombshell that was not a bombshell — that it was indefinitely suspending work on its Ring of Fire chromite project. You didn’t need a crystal ball to see that one coming although some politicians claimed to have been blind-sided by it.

Bill Boor, who was Cliffs’ vice-president of global ferroalloys but now has a new title, senior vice-president of strategy and business development, had been telegraphing that message for months.

A year ago, Boor cautioned 330 people at a Greater Chamber of Commerce luncheon that several planets would have to align for Cliffs to begin production at its McFaulds Lake mine by 2016.

In March, he told The Sudbury Star that while he understood that the change of leadership after Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned could slow the progress of talks, Cliffs needed to sign a “definitive document” before it could develop its Black Thor deposit.

When Cliffs failed to get an easement from the Mining and Lands Commissioner over KWG Resources Ltd. claims to build an all-weather road, Boor was blunt about the outcome.

Without access to construct that 340-kilometre road, “there is no project,” Boor said in September.

Cliffs appealed that decision, but it was pretty much over at that point.

The political fallout has been fierce since Cliffs officially pulled out of the project, cutting its losses at least temporarily after investing $500 million so far.

The rhetoric heated up Monday in the Legislature with New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath grilling the governing Liberals, demanding to know the details of any initial agreement they made with Cliffs.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was absent from the Legislature on Monday and last week after the Cliffs news broke, and Finance Minister Charles Sousa was acting premier Monday.

The exchange between Horwath and Sousa was like a scene from the theatre of the absurd. Every time Horwath asked the finance minister to reveal details of the agreement with Cliffs and tell Ontarians if the province had lived up to its part of any bargain with the Cleveland-based company, Sousa deflected the question.

He repeatedly answered Horwath’s questions and supplementals by slamming the federal government for not doing its part to move development of the Ring of Fire forward.

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