Companies already jockeying for first dibs on Ring of Fire infrastructure money – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – March 7, 2016)

There could be battle shaping up on who gets first dibs on the government infrastructure money that has been promised for the Ring Of Fire mining development in far Northern Ontario.

Speaking out the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) now on in Toronto, Alan Coutts said his company is ready to move ahead with an all-season road for the project.

Coutts is the president and CEO of Noront Resources Ltd., one of the major players in the Ring Of Fire venture a large mining development located about 600 kilometres northwest of Timmins, in the remote McFaulds Lake area. The prospect is identified mainly as a chromite project, valued in the tens of billions of dollars.

Monday’s announcement by Coutts is at odds with an announcement made earlier this year by KWG Resources Inc, the other big player at the Ring Of Fire.

In January, KWG vice president Bruce Hodgman revealed his company had worked out a deal with China Railway First Survey and Design Institute (FSDI) for a feasibility study on a railway corridor into the project.

At that time, Hodgman said it was KWG that staked all the high ground leading out of the Ring Of Fire area.

“So it is the only feasible corridor because it has the high ground and, of course, we have so much swamp up there it doesn’t make any sense to go anywhere else.”

Hodgman said KWG spent between $15- and $20-million on pre-engineering, surveying and soil testing work on that corridor to make sure it could support a railroad. With that, the company presented the information to China Rail, which in the past 60 years has created nearly 48,000 kilometres of rail through some of the world’s most difficult terrain.

Speaking at the convention in Toronto Monday, Coutts said Noront has other ideas. He mentioned that Franco-Nevada Corporation entered into a share purchase agreement in 2015 with Noront, allowing Noront to purchase chromite assets formerly owned by Cliffs Natural Resources.

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