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TORONTO — The dominant company in Ontario’s “Ring of Fire” mineral belt is threatening to suspend its work, sources say, putting a big question mark over future development plans in the region.
Noront Resources Ltd. has warned both the Ontario government and First Nations communities in recent days that it will stop working unless it can demonstrate some tangible progress to investors, according to sources.
The company and its key lender, Resource Capital Funds, are increasingly frustrated with a lack of movement on government infrastructure commitments, First Nations agreements and other matters. The longer these issues drag on, the harder it will be for Noront to raise new capital.
The company is expected to halt spending on its Eagle’s Nest project in the Ring of Fire by the end of the year if it does not see any progress. In that scenario, Toronto-based Noront would lay off most of its workers and go down to a skeleton staff.
That would be a major setback for the Ontario government, which has made the Ring of Fire the centerpiece of its Northern economic development plans.
Sources said Noront is optimistic that its shutdown threat will get Queen’s Park and the First Nations focused on moving forward on this file. However, the next few weeks will be critical.
“When things come to a head like this, it gives people a bit more clarity and gets their thinking caps on,” said one source.
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