[Noront] Junior miner wants faster government action on providing Far North infrastructure – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – November 6, 2015)

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Noront Resources president-CEO Alan Coutts isn’t enamoured with the provincial government’s glacial pace of infrastructure planning in the Ring of Fire, but his junior mining company has no immediate intention to mothball its nickel project in the region.

“We don’t have any plans to stop activities at this time,” said Coutts, a day after Noront announced the start of a modest $650,000 step-out exploration program, three kilometres from its flagship Eagle’s Nest nickel deposit.

A rather upbeat Coutts was beating back a Toronto newspaper report that the main mineral developer in the Ring of Fire was threatening to suspend exploration in an effort to speed up a government commitment to build mining-related infrastructure in the Far North.

The article, citing unnamed sources close to the company, said Resource Capital Funds, Noront’s main financier, is supportive and that such a work stoppage could be made within weeks.

Coutts said there’s no looming “drop-dead date” to make any major decision, but they’ll continue to push the provincial and federal Liberal governments to provide details on how infrastructure development in the Far North will proceed, rather than rely on a “stale” promise from Queen’s Park of providing $1 billion, should Ottawa provide matching funds.

“We do want to have responses from government. We can’t wait forever, especially in this lousy market.”

To raise project financing in a tough commodities market, Coutts said the company must demonstrate to shareholders and investors that there are signs of progress at the site and alignment by all the key stakeholders.

“That’s why we’re doing this exploration work.”

The program will use ground geophysics to test some prospective targets that could be followed with drilling, if warranted. The company is employing 10 residents from the nearby First Nation communities of Webequie and Marten Falls to assist with line cutting.

Noront is the leading mining player in the Ring of Fire since the departure of Cliffs Natural Resources from Ontario and Noront’s subsequent US $27.5-million purchase of the Cliffs chromite claims in March.

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