Noront Resources ‘daunted’ but excited by Ring of Fire approval – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – June 23, 2015)

Provincial government makes 17 amendments to Noront’s nickel mining proposal

Noront Resources will need to enhance its consultation with First Nations and study more potential transportation routes after the provincial government made 17 amendments to the company’s plan for an environmental assessment for its nickel project in the Ring of Fire.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change approved Noront’s terms of reference last week for the environmental assessment of its planned underground mine north of Pickle Lake, Ont.

The amendments include a requirement for Noront to study four potential transportation routes for moving its ore. The company was looking at two. There are also many amendments prescribing the level of consultation and engagement with First Nations.

“It’s a bit daunting, but at the same time we’ve got our future in our own hands, we know what is expected of us and so that clarity is a great thing to have,” said Noront president Alan Coutts.

The company first submitted its plan in October 2012 and people are excited about moving forward, he said.

‘The price of playing’

As the proponent, Noront is responsible for the costs of the environmental assessment. Coutts said that’s not a concern as the company is ‘all in’ in the Ring of Fire.

“We don’t have property elsewhere, we intend to be experts, both socially and technically in this region,” he said. “That’s part of the price of playing.”

Noront is assessing its timelines in light of the increased demands of the environmental assessment, Coutts said.

“The original projections were based around the proposed terms of reference and certainly with these amendments that would affect these timelines,” he said.

First production at the mine is currently slated for 2018 or 2019, he said.

Among the amendments made by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change:

  • a requirement that Noront work with individual First Nation communities to develop community specific consultation plans, intended to guide consultation through all stages of the environmental assessment
  • a requirement that Noront submit a draft environmental assessment for broad review, including Aboriginal communities, prior to submitting a final environmental assessment
  • a requirement that Noront consult with potentially affected First Nations so that community perspectives can be considered, including impact of the project on changes to culture, tradition and way of life
  • a requirement that Noront assess potential effects of the project related to water quality, wildlife, caribou and any other effects on the natural environment
  • a requirement that Noront translate specified documents into Ojibway, Cree and Oji-Cree

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