No need to panic over Ring of Fire – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – November 27, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – When Cliffs Natural Resources announced a couple of years ago it was going to establish a ferrochrome production facility in Capreol in connection with a planned chromite mine in the Ring of Fire, there was naturally disappointment in Timmins.

Timmins was one of four communities in the running to have this facility. However, following that decision, city officials were quickly pointing out Cliffs were not the only player within the James Bay lowlands.

Among those was Noront Resources, which has been looking at mining nickel, copper and platinum in that area, and is now at the stage of submitting an environmental assessment for a proposed mining operation.

In fact, there are close to 40 firms that have staked claims within the Ring of Fire – though not all of them are mining companies.

One should keep that in mind in the wake of Cliffs’ announcement last week that it is suspending its chromite project within the James Bay lowlands. The political reaction from Cliffs’ announcement was like a chorus of skinned cats.

Cliffs’ announcement didn’t come as a huge surprise considering just two months ago its request to build a road crossing over another mining firm’s staked claim was turned down by the Mining and Lands Commissioner. The other company, KWG, has staked the ground for a potential rail line.

Cliffs indicated following the commissioner’s decision that the chromite project had been placed in jeopardy.

Should we be panicking after all the promising things that have been said about the Ring of Fire? Is this the end?

Absolutely not.

It might seem trite to confidently state the minerals are in the ground and that they’re not going anywhere.

But that is the truth.

Cliffs has not pulled out completely and clearly sees value in retaining its stakes in that area. Following its announcement, the company stated it will continue to work with the province, First Nations and any other parties on solutions for developing infrastructure in that area.

Sure enough, if there is money to be made, then someone will be out there trying to make it. If it’s not Cliffs, it will be someone else. And if it’s not tomorrow, it will be next year or perhaps years after that – however, long it takes.

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