The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.
VANCOUVER — Noront Resources (TSXV: NOT; US-OTC: NOSOF) has emerged as a leader across the Ring of Fire region in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario, and it has a long-term plan in the works it hopes will establish a world-class nickel sulphide and chromite camp in the region.
The company is knows it won’t be a quick process, but a commitment to social license and First Nation partnerships could lead to successes where larger companies have failed.
Noront made headlines in late March when it acquired 103 claims in the Ring of Fire from beleaguered U.S. base-metal miner Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF) for US$20 million. The deal was financed via a US$22.5-million loan agreement that saw Franco-Nevada (TSX: FNV; NYSE: FNV) pick up a 3% royalty on the Black Thor chromite deposit and a 2% royalty on Noront’s properties in the region with the exception of its advanced-stage Eagle’s Nest nickel platinum group metals project.
“We’d always had our eye on consolidating the Ring of Fire because we view it as an emerging camp. I mean you have a greenstone belt with a big ultramafic complex that seems to be chalk full of discovery potential,” said president and CEO Alan Coutts during an interview.
“But from our point of view the prospectivity is only one attractive aspect of the big picture because when it comes to dealing with regulatory agencies and First Nations it becomes a lot easier when you have one industry voice with a singular vision in terms of development and infrastructure,” he continued.
The Ontario government and Premier Kathleen Wynne have earmarked around $1 billion for infrastructure in the northern Ontario mining area, and had hoped a larger company like Cliffs might be able to fast-track a bulk-tonnage chromite project. The Ohio-based company orchestrated an unceremonious exit from Canada, however, following a fall in commodity prices and a proxy battle that saw a significant management turnover.
Coutts explained that the first message he had to convey to the Ontario government was that Noront was not prepared to immediately tackle a large-scale, infrastructure intensive project. The company remains focused on the more realistic goal of getting Eagle’s Nest into production and working on permitting and licensing activities at its chromite assets to prepare itself for a potential rebound in commodity markets.
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