Province’s hands tied over Wabush Mines – by Ty Dunham (St. John’s Telegram – December 09, 2014)

Lack of dialogue between Cliff’s and MFC isn’t hopeful: Minister

The answer many have been waiting for may not become a reality, and Wabush Mines will likely be shut down for good. Talks between Cliff’s Natural Resources and MFC Industrial over the sale of Wabush Mines began in July, but the companies haven’t spoken together in weeks, and MFC hasn’t put anything in writing.

Cliff’s is stripping the mine away one piece at a time, honouring a multi-million dollar closure and rehabilitation plan with the financial assurances it can be carried out, according to the Mining Act.

It would cost millions for them to put the brakes on the closure while the MFC merely expresses interest, and Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley said the government is in no position to force a company to spend that kind of money.

“We don’t have authority as a government to stop a company from closing,” said Dalley in a recent interview with The Aurora. “For us to intervene, we would be highly concerned it may jeopardize the closure plan and financial assurance that have been provided.”

MFC has yet to provide a business plan, production plan, closure and rehabilitation plan or financial assurance, Dalley noted.

“They’ve given indication of their interest, and I respect that. But to this point we have nothing to show how committed MFC are to operating the mine.”

The absence of a fully committed operator would leave the town, taxpayers, and the province in a difficult and costly position, he added.

Obstacles surrounding a lease agreement between the two companies have further complicated any hope of a takeover. Dalley said he hasn’t seen any indication Cliff’s will get out of the arrangement.

“They both believe they have certain rights and both believe they’ll make certain decisions. To be quite frank, I’m getting mixed messages from all of them.”

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