Ontario urged to get act together to save Ring of Fire development – by Global News Toronto (November 22, 2013)


TORONTO – The finger-pointing has begun as governments and critics look to assign blame over a big mining company’s pullout from the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, a massive mineral-rich area believed to have the economic potential of Alberta’s oilsands.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. is suspending its operations indefinitely, saying it couldn’t keep spending money while the question of whether it would be able to build an all-weather road to the remote site remained in doubt.

It’s a major setback for cash-strapped Ontario, which may not see the economic windfall the governing Liberals had promised anytime soon.

Greg Rickford, the federal Conservatives’ lead minister for the Ring of Fire, said he was surprised with the Cliffs decision, because the company was “very satisfied” with the federal government’s involvement in the project. But in some ways, it wasn’t that surprising, said the minister of state for FedNor, the economic development organization for northern Ontario.

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Solving ‘Ring of Fire’ delays up to Ontario, Harper says – by Margo McDiarmid (CBC News – November 22, 2013)


Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government is not getting involved in sorting out problems in Ontario’s mineral-rich region known as the Ring of Fire.

Harper was in Winnipeg Friday for an event with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger to open a local highway partly funded by the federal government. Asked by a reporter if he was going to do anything to get the Ring of Fire back on track following the decision by a major U.S. mining company on Thursday to suspend its operations in the area, Harper said it isn’t his problem.

“This is a project that is primarily under provincial jurisdiction because ultimately resources belong to the provinces and resource development is a provincial responsibility,” Harper said.

“Obviously we have been talking to Ontario over the past few years in terms of regulatory approval processes, in terms of infrastructure investments and in terms of making sure First Nations continue to benefit,” he told reporters.

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The Ring of Fire’s Future Is Now a Burning Question – by Sunny Freeman (Huffington Post – November 22, 2013)


Mining giant Cliffs Natural Resources’ decision to halt work on the largest project in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire region has aroused a sudden interest in the lumbering development.

The opposition at Queen’s Park pounced to lay blame on the province for the squandered opportunity.

Financial analysts scurried to advise clients on what it means for their shares. And usually blasé news outlets called on pundits to discuss whether the loss of the U.S. mining giant was a death knell for the much-hyped but little-understood development.

The biggest player in the Ring of Fire, a 5,000 square kilometre tract of land in Ontario’s Far North that is said to hold a potential $50 billion in mineral deposits, announced late Wednesday it is halting work on its $3.3 billion chromite project indefinitely, blaming, for the most part, an “uncertain timeline.”

If Cliffs’ decision to stop development is the death of that high stakes mining discovery, it was anything but a sudden one.

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COMMENT: Cliffs abandons Ring of Fire – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – November 21, 2013)

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Cliffs Natural Resources, the American miner that was so hot to gain control of chromite deposits in Ontario’s Ring of Fire, is packing up and going home.

The news release is an understatement: “The technical project work including feasibility study, development and exploration activities are being halted and there is no restart date planned.”

In practical terms, Cliffs is closing its Toronto and Thunder Bay, ON, offices as well as the exploration camp. That leaves employees without an employer, although the company did offer to help find jobs elsewhere in the company for some of those affected.

Cliffs has had an uncomfortable relationship with local First Nations, provincial authorities and other explorers working in the Ring of Fire. Readers may wonder if the company had any understanding of how to deal co-operatively with First Nations or if it thought it could overlook their participation.

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First Nations protest mining on tradtional lands, in provincial parks – by Staff Writer (Winnipeg Free Press – November 22, 2013)


Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs leader Derek Nepinak warned today that not one mine will open without First Nations consent.
The Grand Chief led a protest outside a provincial mining conference this morning to oppose mines in provincial parks and on lands claimed as traditional for First Nations.

“We are living in a day and age where new leadership is emerging and we are not going to sit back,” Nepinak said outside in -15 C temperatures.

As he has since Idle No More protests last winter, Nepinak struck a tone at odds with the conciliatory statements the public is used to hearing from indigenous leaders.

But he didn’t threaten any specific action either. Nepinak offered only general predictions and referred to actions that have already taken place in Manitoba, New Brunswick and other parts of Canada that have seen blockades rise against mining and resource extraction.

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Ring of Fire delay highlights need for mining infrastructure – by CBC News Thunder Bay (November 22, 2013)


For a radio interview with Northern Miner editor John Cumming and RepublicOfMining.com editor /mining policy analyst Stan Sudol on Superior Morning with Lisa Laco, click here: http://www.cbc.ca/superiormorning/episodes/2013/11/22/ring-of-fire-reaction/


For a radio interview with Noront Resources’ CEO Allan Coutts on CBC Sudbury Morning North with Markus Schwabe, click here : http://www.cbc.ca/morningnorth/past-episodes/2013/11/22/reaction-from-rival-company-in-ring-of-fire-on-cliffs/

Ontario needs to ‘show the world that we are open for business,’ mining professional says

Cliffs Natural Resources’ decision to suspend operations in the Ring of Fire has sent waves through the mining sector. Some players say it sends a bad message about Ontario, but others believe it could provide the impetus to develop infrastructure.

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Cliffs Mine Shutdown Threatens Ring of Fire Development – by Gerrit De Vynck (Bloomberg News – November 22, 2013)


Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF) is postponing a $3.3 billion project in Ontario, threatening development of the mineral-rich Ring of Fire area once described as Canada’s most-promising mining region.

Cliffs’ plan to mine chromite, an ingredient for making stainless steel, was among the most advanced in the Ring of Fire, the horseshoe-shaped deposit about 1,000 kilometers (622 miles) northwest of Toronto and named by a mining executive after the Johnny Cash song. Other companies working in the area include Noront Resources Ltd. (NOT) and KWG Resources Inc. (KWG), both headquartered in Toronto.

At stake is development of Northern Ontario, an area about twice the size of California, and projects to mine chromite, copper and nickel. In 2010, former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called the Ring of Fire “the most promising mining opportunity in Canada in a century,” and Michael Gravelle, the province’s mining minister, values the Ring of Fire’s mineral potential at C$60 billion ($57 billion).

Cliffs’ decision is going to have “a huge impact on the development of the Ring of Fire,” Michael Mantha, an opposition New Democratic Party member from northern Ontario, said in a telephone interview.

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Cliffs’ exit from Ring of Fire forces Ontario to ask: what now? – by Adam Radwanski (Globe and Mail – November 22, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

If not Cliffs, then who? The question is of paramount importance to Ontario’s economic future, and comes with no obvious answer. Mining the chromite deposits of the so-called Ring of Fire north of Thunder Bay is supposed to generate billions of dollars of revenue, and create thousands of jobs. But with the Ohio-based company having scrapped plans to develop it, nobody else is poised to step in.

It’s a dilemma that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals have surely been contemplating for months already.

In retrospect, it’s apparent that both Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. and the government had a strong inkling this day was coming, and were each doing their best to make the other side wear the bad news.

For Cliffs, that meant mounting a case that the province wasn’t doing enough to remove the myriad barriers to getting work under way. Never mind that the company’s finances took a nosedive in recent years, because it bet heavily on iron ore just before commodity prices tanked, and that its incoming CEO was rumoured to be unenthused by the prospect of making a big investment in a mineral Cliffs has no experience mining.

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Development delayed in the Ring of Fire (Globe and Mail Editorial – November 22, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

A decision by Cliffs Natural Resources Ltd. to suspend development of its proposed $3.3-billion chromium mine in Northern Ontario sends a worrying signal about the fate of a giant mineral deposit whose economic potential has it being touted as Canada’s next oil sands.

The Ring of Fire region near James Bay is estimated to hold up to $50-billion worth of chromite, nickel, copper and other minerals, but so far only two companies have launched mine projects in the remote area, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest highway. This week, Cleveland-based Cliffs announced it will be suspending work and closing its offices in Thunder Bay and Toronto.

Cliffs says it has spent $500-million since 2010 – including the acquisition of the mineral rights – but has yet to secure road access to the site, complete environmental assessments or see negotiations resolved between the province and First Nations over how the land will be used and how income will be shared. “We’re really at a point where you can take it so far and spend your shareholders’ dollars,” a company spokeswoman told The Globe and Mail.

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All that glitters is not enriched uranium – by Matthew Hart (Globe and Mail – November 21, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

As Iran’s Supreme Leader talked about “red lines” and U.S. President Barack Obama struggled to head off tougher sanctions that could derail his diplomacy, a powerful subtext rippled beneath the surface of Iranian negotiations with the West when they resumed Wednesday: Which metal does Iran want most, at least in the short term – enriched uranium or gold?

Until this summer, the gold trade with Turkey provided a loophole through which much-needed Western currencies flowed into Iran. Tehran urgently wants that loophole opened up again. Here’s how it worked.

Iran sold oil and gas to Turkey. The buyer paid in Turkish lira deposited to an Iranian account in Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank. Iranian gold dealers had access to the Halkbank money, and used it to buy gold in Turkey. The gold was then hand-carried from Turkey to Dubai and sold to traders for the dollars and euros Iran so desperately needs.

Turkey can openly buy oil and gas from Iran because it has a waiver under the sanctions protocols that prohibit other countries from doing so. However, the gold flow to Iran enabled a more robust exception to the sanctions than envisaged by the waiver.

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Cliffs Natural Resources makes right move with Ring of Fire pullout – RBC – by Jonathan Ratner (National Post – November 21, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. may be down after announcing it is indefinitely suspending the Chromite Project in Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire, but at least one analyst sees the news as a positive.

H. Fraser Phillips at RBC Capital Markets told clients that the international mining company’s decision to pull out of the Ring of Fire by the end of 2013 removes an uncertainty lurking over its shares.

“It has been our view that the project would take years to developed if it could ultimately be developed at all,” Mr. Phillips said. He noted Cliffs can now focus on allocating its capital and resources to its core iron ore assets such as the Bloom Lake mine in Quebec.

Based on estimates from the company’s July 2012 investor day, the Chromite Project required ferrochrome prices of US$1.40 per pound to produce an internal rate of return between 14% and 17%.

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Burying lousy climate policies in Warsaw – by Peter Foster (National Post – November 22, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Gore in Toronto, chaos in Warsaw, and carbon capture on the ropes

The Al Gore climate parade rolled into Toronto Thursday, apparently oblivious to the fact that he was coming to praise the Ontario Liberal government for its successful relaunch of the province’s giant fleet of nuclear reactors, 4,250-megawatts of carbon-free electricity production. Premier Kathleen Wynne, in comments at an event with the Goracle, also neglected to mention that it is thanks to nuclear power that her government can now go through the charade of proposing a complete ban on the burning of coal. Oh oh. Time for Ontarians to start hoarding charcoal briquettes?

The Gore-Wynne Toronto love-in looked distinctly at odds with the intergovernmental hate-in that is now winding down in Warsaw. In the Polish capital, where the official IPCC gathering of the NGO tribes and state climate negotiators has been underway for two weeks, the climate circus has been reduced to its ugly core, which has little to do with science and everything to do with money and power, with the UN as the ringmaster.

After the abject failure of the Copenhagen conference in 2009, rich countries hypocritically signed on to provide $100-billion annually to “poor” countries by 2020. Now poor countries want their hand outs, and it’s not about mitigation any more, it’s about “compensation” for climate crime.

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As Ring of Fire called off, Thunder Bay teeters between boom and bust – by Ashley Renders (National Post – November 22, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

When Cliffs Natural Resources suspended the Ring of Fire project that had promised to bring jobs and prosperity to the city of Thunder Bay, it proved what local authorities already know: Economic growth in the mining industry is hard to predict and even harder to plan for.

Once a bustling grain port, then an important forestry centre, the biggest city in northwestern Ontario knows how quickly jobs can disappear in the resource industry.

Nine other mines are still expected to open in the Thunder Bay area before 2017, leaving some hope for job growth in the city’s future. But volatile metal prices mean Thunder Bay doesn’t know whether it is about to be the next Fort McMurray, or the same old hard luck Thunder Bay.

The city has essentially experienced zero population growth since 1971 and an under-performing economy for the last 10 years, says a report released earlier this year by Thunder Bay Ventures, a non-profit organization working on economic development.

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Liberals don’t get mining and northern Ontario – by Christina Blizzard (Toronto Sun – November 22, 2013)


TORONTO — So it seems the Ring of Fire (ROF) has fizzled — leaving only a burning sensation where it hurts.
The massive, ore-rich area in a remote part of northwestern Ontario is touted as the biggest economic boon to this province in 100 years.

It’s rich in palladium, platinum, nickel, diamonds and gold. Most importantly, it has the largest chromite deposit in North America — valued at an estimated $60 billion in economic development. After one of the major companies involved in its development pulled out Wednesday, the project now appears dead in the water.

Who’s to blame? Well, mostly a government that’s Toronto-centric, doesn’t get mining and doesn’t understand Northern Ontario.

Several years ago, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, responding to a question about mining giant Xstrats moving its giant Timmins smelter to Quebec, opined, “We cannot continue to make a living by pulling stuff out of the ground.”

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Toronto miner still jumping into Ring of Fire – by Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – November 22, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Noront Resources CEO says company will be the first to open mine in region.

Toronto-based Noront Resources Ltd. still plans to jump into the world-class Ring of Fire, despite a U.S. firm’s decision to abandon its massive mine project in the Northern Ontario region.

“We’re the most advanced project in the area,” Noront chief executive Alan Coutts said in an interview Thursday.

Despite a brutal downturn in the metals market that has rocked the mining industry this year, the exploration firm is on track to develop its $700 million Eagle’s Nest deposit of high-grade nickel, copper, platinum and palladium, he said.

And Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.’s decision this week to abandon its nearby chromite development has no impact on the plans the Toronto miner has for its coveted base metals property a few kilometers away, he said.

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