Inside the battle to own a prized nickel deposit in Ontario’s remote Ring of Fire – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – June 8, 2021)

Wyloo Metals, backed by an Australian iron ore magnate with deep pockets, is looking to buy Noront Resources for its prospective nickel as a carbon transition play

As the world stumbles towards a decarbonized future, moving sideways and planting false steps at times, Luca Giacovazzi says he knows one thing: The transition is good for Northern Ontario’s nickel.

In a story that is still unfolding, in late May, Luca Giacovazzi, head of Australia-based Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd, announced he was prepared to invest roughly $133 million to buy Noront Resources Inc. — the Toronto company that’s spent years trying to develop a new mining district near the James Bay Lowlands of northern Ontario, called the Ring of Fire.

Cut off from all-season roads connecting to the rest of the province, the Ring of Fire has always faced long odds of becoming a mining area.

An array of First Nations communities hold connections and claims to the land; plus taxpayers would need to support building a road, at a cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars at minimum, which would open a pristine wilderness to mining; and then, there’s the terrain itself — a mix of peat, and a spongy type of bog known as muskeg that lies somewhere in between land and water.

Giacovazzi has already invested $26 million in Noront, buying up 23 per cent of its shares, plus its debt and royalties, and says the prospects for the nickel found there are too enticing to pass up.

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