No need to panic over Ring of Fire – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – November 27, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – When Cliffs Natural Resources announced a couple of years ago it was going to establish a ferrochrome production facility in Capreol in connection with a planned chromite mine in the Ring of Fire, there was naturally disappointment in Timmins.

Timmins was one of four communities in the running to have this facility. However, following that decision, city officials were quickly pointing out Cliffs were not the only player within the James Bay lowlands.

Among those was Noront Resources, which has been looking at mining nickel, copper and platinum in that area, and is now at the stage of submitting an environmental assessment for a proposed mining operation.

In fact, there are close to 40 firms that have staked claims within the Ring of Fire – though not all of them are mining companies.

One should keep that in mind in the wake of Cliffs’ announcement last week that it is suspending its chromite project within the James Bay lowlands. The political reaction from Cliffs’ announcement was like a chorus of skinned cats.

Read more

Need to see details of Ring deal – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – November 27, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

It’s been a week since Cliffs Natural Resources dropped the bombshell that was not a bombshell — that it was indefinitely suspending work on its Ring of Fire chromite project. You didn’t need a crystal ball to see that one coming although some politicians claimed to have been blind-sided by it.

Bill Boor, who was Cliffs’ vice-president of global ferroalloys but now has a new title, senior vice-president of strategy and business development, had been telegraphing that message for months.

A year ago, Boor cautioned 330 people at a Greater Chamber of Commerce luncheon that several planets would have to align for Cliffs to begin production at its McFaulds Lake mine by 2016.

In March, he told The Sudbury Star that while he understood that the change of leadership after Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned could slow the progress of talks, Cliffs needed to sign a “definitive document” before it could develop its Black Thor deposit.

Read more

Ring of Fire: Province challenges feds to develop Ring – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – November 27, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle challenged the federal government this week to accept responsibility to help develop the Ring of Fire and make a financial commitment to do so.

Gravelle wrote Kenora MP Greg Rickford, minister of state for Science and Technology and FedNor minister, asking the federal government to “step up to the plate” and be a committed partner in developing the rich chromite deposits.

Gravelle highlighted the potential benefits the Ring of Fire will have for First Nations and other people in Ontario and across Canada.

He pointed out the federal government has supported large-scale resource development initiatives in other parts of Canada because of their potential for national economic and social benefits, citing developments in B.C. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Gravelle said the development corporation he announced almost three weeks ago “reflects our commitment to the infrastructure that is critical to successful development into the Ring of Fire.”

Read more

Mining firm worried about review process – by Peter James (Prince George Citizen – November 26, 2013)

A mistake in an environmental review could shake the confidence Canadians have in the regulatory system, according to a representative of a mining company alleging a major error has already occurred.

Taseko believes Natural Resources Canada erred when evaluating the seepage rates of its proposed New Prosperity copper and gold mine near Williams Lake by modeling the potential impacts using an incorrect design for the tailings pond. The company is calling on Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq to “correct the record” when she makes a final determination on whether the project could cause significant adverse effects.

“You expect, and I think the public expects, that these processes are going to be thorough and fair and appropriate, after all these are significant projects in Canada that go through an environmental assessment of this nature,” Taseko vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Battison said Monday. “People need to have confidence in the process, that the process is fair and unbiased. A mistake like this kind of calls into question the validity of the process and that has the potential to shake people’s confidence in the process.”

Read more

Lakehead mining institute opens dialogue on sustainable development – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – November 26, 2013)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business

Lakehead University’s fledgling mining research institute wants to take a pragmatic, solutions-based, approach to advancing exploration in Northern Ontario starting with an inaugural conference.

The newly minted Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration is hosting an event aimed at examining past, current and future public policy and how it promotes sustainable mining development.

“The Role of Government Policy in Sustainable Mining Development” is set for December 5-6 at the Thunder Bay campus. “It’s our first major event to advance our goals as a centre,” said institute director Peter Hollings.

The conference will bring together Canadian and world leaders in mining policy and mineral development with speakers and representatives from First Nations, Metis, local communities, government and industry attending.

Read more

Get the Ring back on track – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (November 26, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

THE ongoing interest of a number of mining concerns in the vast Ring of Fire region is not what holds public attention today. Neither is it the creation of a development corporation to manage the project or negotiations between the province and First Nations. Rather, it is the sense of lost opportunities that comes with the indefinite departure of the mineral belt’s biggest player. There is a growing suspicion that something is wrong and that the province is not saying so.

Viewed in isolation, the government’s announcement of a development corporation to bring the multi-mineral development on line is a good thing. It suggests the province takes seriously the potential for immense economic development in the North and the province as a whole. The timing is another question. Toronto Star Queen’s Park columnist Martin Regg Cohn, syndicated in this newspaper, writes today that it “now looks like an act of desperation in anticipation of the Cliffs pullout.”

The question is what did the government know about Cliffs’ intentions and when. The company has been sending signals of frustration with the long process of securing permission to operate. Its warnings were seen by some as undue impatience until it abandoned $500 million of preparatory spending and closed its Thunder Bay and Toronto offices and its site camp. Renewed interest by the company with an upswing in the commodities market would greatly relieve many people.

Read more

Deal would see FNX pay most of $5M road upgrades – by Darren MacDonald (Sudbury Northern Life – November 25, 2013)

Company needs stronger roadway to move ore mined from its Victoria site

A cost-sharing deal between the city and a mining company would see about $5 million in upgrades to Crean Hill Road and Fairbank East Road in the Worthington area.

FNX Mining, which is now owned by KGHM International Ltd., will pay 75 per cent of the cost of the project, with the city picking up the remainder. The 75-25 deal will stay in place regardless of actual costs, although both sides can walk away if bids for the construction contract are too high.

The company needs roadways its heavy trucks can use open year-round to make its Victoria Advanced Exploration Project economically viable. It approached the city to negotiate an agreement to upgrade the roads, which currently are subject to load restrictions in spring when melting snow softens the ground considerably.

“The terrain in the Worthington area generally consists of low-lying swampy areas with occasional bedrock outcrops
and hills,” says a staff report on the proposal.

Read more

Harper’s Ring of Fire comments took Ontario by ‘surprise’ – by Susana Mas (CBC News – November 25, 2013)

The Ontario government says it was taken by surprise when Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed development in the Ring of Fire region as the province’s problem, given that repeated calls for the federal government to play a role in the project have gone unanswered in recent weeks.

In a telephone interview with CBC News on Monday, Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle said Harper’s comments came “as a surprise.” “To simply be somewhat dismissive and say it’s a matter of provincial issue or provincial jurisdiction, certainly took me a little bit aback,” Gravelle said.

The prime minister was asked, during a news conference in Winnipeg on Friday, what role the federal government had in getting the development in the Ring of Fire back on track after a major U.S. mining company suspended its operations in the area a day earlier.

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

Read more

Tired of Cliffs seeking more public money – by Cody Walter (Sudbury Star Letter – November 25, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

For the last two years plus, we’ve been listening to carefully designed propaganda from Cliff’s Natural Resources, attempting to manipulate public opinion and convince taxpayers that we should give them our money. Now Cliff’s has shelved the project indefinitely, and they would have you believe it’s everyone else’s fault. It’s time for a reality check.

Cliff’s cites “difficulty negotiating with First Nations” as a reason for closing up shop. Yes it’s true, that after 500 years of genocidal torment under (continuing) European occupation, Canada’s Indigenous peoples have won the right to be consulted about developments which will affect them. This is a great thing (if more than a little late), and if Cliff’s finds this “difficult,” then I say: “tough luck.”

Cliff’s wants a break on hydro prices? That’s actually unsurprising, because so does everyone else. But if we agree to sell hydro to them below market price, guess who picks up the tab for the difference? That’s right, it’s you and me.

Likewise with the road they wish to build. They want “help” from the government (read: money from working people) to reduce start-up costs and allow them a more profitable business. Is it such a radical notion these days that businesses should cover their own costs?

Read more

Ontario cuts coal, while BC looks for more – by Mike Chisholm (Vancouver Observer – November 22nd, 2013)

It may be the industrial heartland of Canada, but Ontario took a major step forward this week by announcing all its coal fired generating plants would shut down, while in ‘super natural” BC the province is preparing to increase its coal mining and shipments.

On Thursday, the Ontario government announced it is taking the final steps to reach its goal to close all provincial coal burning facilities, including the Nanticoke Generating Station – the largest coal-fired electrical generating plant in North America. And the government has announced a permanent ban on all coal-fired electricity from the province, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to do so.

When burned, coal is one of the greatest generators of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change.

“Our work on eliminating coal and investing in renewables is the strongest action being taken in North America to fight climate change,” says Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne. “I believe we can work together as stewards of our natural environment and protect our children, our grandchildren and our fellow citizens.”

Read more

Manitoba Prospector Kate Rice: Still making history – Thompson Citizen Editorial (OCTOBER 30, 2013)

The Thompson Citizen, which was established in June 1960, covers the City of Thompson and Nickel Belt Region of Northern Manitoba. The city has a population of about 13,500 residents while the regional population is more than 40,000. 

On Jan. 16, Kate Rice, the “Red Lady” and “Lady of the Lake,” also known as “Mooniasquao”(White Woman) by her Cree friends, will become only the second woman ever inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in Toronto. For those of us here in Northern Manitoba, a land of “headframes, happiness and heartaches,” as the title of Jim Parres and Marc Jackson’s 2009 book goes, Rice’s induction is a very big deal.

After all, Inco came originally to Northern Manitoba as a result of her Rice Island copper and nickel claims, which were never developed but which Vale still owns today, although it would be the discovery on Feb. 5, 1956 of the Thompson ore body, known as Borehole 11962 – the so-called “Discovery Hole” at Cook Lake (later renamed Thompson Lake after Inco chairman John Fairfield Thompson for whom the City of Thompson is also named) that really got things rolling.

Viola MacMillan, mine finder and financier, as well as the driving force behind the transformation of the Prospectors and Developers Association from a small group of less than 100 to an organization of more than 4,000 internationally recognized association of professionals was the first woman inducted into the hall in 1991.

Read more

Ring [of Fire] road or railroad – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (November 24, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

WHILE no one should minimize implications of the indefinite departure of Cliffs Natural Resources from the Ring of Fire mining belt, other players remain in place and with them, other possibilities.

Cliffs is the biggest and its plan to mine chromite would lead the list of depositors in the Ontario treasury. But its former partner and chief rival for chromite remains willing to propose an alternative to the transportation corridor that it and Cliffs both claim as essential to their plans — and those of every other mining interest in the vast region of mineral deposits.

So far, most attention has focused on Cliffs’ proposal for an all-weather road from its central property to a railhead near Nakina. From there, ore would be shipped on existing railways for processing.

KWG Resources makes the case for a railroad over the same ground. And the route is important since it is about the only high ground in a sea of muskeg.

KWG has staked claims along the route and Cliffs asked a provincial authority for permission to build its road over them.

Read more

Don’t blame feds, says minister – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – November 22, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – During a stop in Timmins on Friday, the federal minister responsible for the Ring of Fire gave pointed answers as to who he thought was to blame for Cliffs Natural Resources pulling out of its proposed multi-billion dollar chromite mining project.

Greg Rickford (Conservative – Kenora), federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, and FedNor, said the management of an intra-company land ownership conflict between Cliffs and KWG Resources Inc. is at the top of the list of reasons why the project was put on hold.

Since Ontario’s mining and land commissioner ruled against Ohio-based Cliffs request for an easement to build an access road across KWG-owned land in September, Cliffs had threatened to indefinitely cancel the project. Rickford expanded on why he believed the decision was ultimately announced by Cliffs late Wednesday night.

“The land commissioner’s decision is the real source of the uncertainty; you can’t talk about those large-scale infrastructure projects until you know in which direction they’re going to go,” said Rickford.

Read more

Ontario open for mining business – by Jodi Lundmark ( – November 21, 2013)

Ontario is still open for business, despite Cliffs Natural Resources indefinitely halting their chromite project in the Ring of Fire.

That’s the message the mining services project manager for Thunder Bay’s Community Economic Development Commission wants to send to potential investors.

“This creates a little bit of uncertainty from the investment standpoint around the globe,” said John Mason of Cliffs’ Wednesday announcement.

“This message went around the globe very quickly last night. It speaks to receptivity for risk capital to Ontario for exploration development and mining.”

Cliffs Natural Resources in a release issued Wednesday night, said it plans to halt development of its Northern Ontario chromite project by year’s end. That includes closing its offices in Thunder Bay and Toronto and the exploration camp in the Ring of Fire.

Read more

Fedeli blames Liberal’s for ‘bungled’ Ring of Fire project – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – November 22, 2013)

The provincial Liberals ignored the warnings and bungled an opportunity for billions of dollars of private-sector investment to develop the Ring Fire, says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

Fedeli and the Progressive Conservatives were quick to blame the Liberal government Thursday for the decision by Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. to indefinitely suspend its planned chromite mine and Caperol processing plant.

“You guys just blew a $10-billion deal of a lifetime,” charged Fedeli during question period, noting Cliffs and other smaller players with interests in the site were prepared to to make that level of investment to mine and ship ore from the remote area in the James Bay Lowlands.

Fedeli suggested the Liberals have instead “dithered” for years on moving ahead with the development of the Ring of Fire. And he said the government did nothing when warned by Cliffs as recently as month ago that the project was in a tenuous state.

Fedeli said he visited the Ring of Fire site three times over the past five year and that each time there was less and less and activity.

Read more