Miner developing Ring of Fire says government must step in to save project - Macleans.ca

Miner developing Ring of Fire says government must step in to save project


TORONTO – A major player in developing the much-touted Ring of Fire project in northern Ontario says it will consider pulling out if the Ontario government doesn’t ensure the company has access to the chromite deposit.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., a U.S.-based company that is prepared to spend billions of dollars on the massive mining project, has been unable to build an all-weather road to the site because it would cross land staked by a rival company.

If it can’t build the road, Cliffs will have to consider shutting down operations, said Bill Boor, vice-president of ferroalloys.

“I guess it would be fair to say that we have to think about it,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“We haven’t made any decision along those lines and we hope we don’t get to that point.”

But the project is in a “tenuous state,” he said. If the company doesn’t have a transportation route, it doesn’t have a project, he said.

“We’ve got a fairly high spend rate, so at some point in time, it’s only rational or, it’s kind of our responsibility to decide whether it’s wise to keep pushing,” Boor said.

Junior mining company KWG (TSXV:KWG) has staked the most viable corridor through very difficult wetland terrain for a potential railroad.

Cliffs, which suspended its environmental assessment activities in June, asked Ontario’s Mining and Lands Commission for an easement over KWG’s mining claims.

But the application was dismissed last month, essentially blocking Cliffs from using the land they need to build the road.

Cliffs is appealing the decision and trying to find a solution, but there aren’t many options, Boor said.

The legal process could take years, he said, and the company isn’t prepared to take on the cost of buying KWG.

Besides, there are other small claimholders along the corridor and the commission’s decision “basically gives a road map” to anyone who has a mining claim related to any project to block development, he said.

The only viable solution is for the government to step in, Boor said. It could expropriate the surface rights or withhold a portion of the surface Crown land for the public interest.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle wouldn’t say whether he will intervene or even consider it. But developing the Ring of Fire “remains a top priority” for the governing Liberals, he said Monday.

For years, the Liberals have been touting the Ring of Fire, about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, as a major mining project that will help boost the cash-strapped province’s economic fortunes, create jobs in the hard-hit north and bring in revenue to struggling First Nations.

It’s believed to contain the largest deposit of chromite — a key ingredient in the making of stainless steel — to be discovered in North America. The federal government has compared it to the Alberta oilsands in terms of its potential to create wealth and development.

But Ontario’s Liberals “bungled” the Ring of Fire from Day 1, and they need to find a “productive” solution that will allow the project to get underway, said Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli.

Noront Resources (TSX:NOT), which also has a significant find in the Ring of Fire, is looking at developing an east-west route, he pointed out.

The Liberals don’t have a clue what they’re doing and it’s jeopardizing development of the Ring of Fire, said New Democrat Mike Mantha, who represents the riding of Algoma-Manitoulin.

“Whether this project is done through rail, whether it’s done through a road, it’s got to move forward, and this province has got to take a leadership role in doing that,” he said.

“We’re talking about 150 years plus of jobs and economic growth for First Nations and opportunities for this entire province. … That’s what’s at stake here.”

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Miner developing Ring of Fire says government must step in to save project

  1. More important than the economic growth for ‘first nations’ is the opportunities available to the indians living on them to acquire skills and employment leading to self-sufficiency, prosperity, and a way out from under the tutelage of the chiefs and councils that run those ‘first nations’.

  2. Northern Ont already has thousands of jobs they can’t fill….so ’employment’ isn’t an issue.

    Land ownership is.

    • Alas, they also have thousands of unemployed.

      Shuffling land back and forth is not going to get indians to bestir themselves to become self sufficient.

      And in some cases giving away land and money to ‘first nations’ is just going to end up exacerbating the dependency problems far too many indians have living on their ‘first nations.

      • Have you explained your ‘indian’ OCD to your family yet?

        • ???

          The article is in some measure about economic opportunities for indians and about the ‘first nations’ upon which they live.

          But I suppose non-sequituri are not surprising from you.

          • PR jazz for the govt….there are already thousands of mining jobs they can’t fill. The actual problem is land ownership.

            The word you’re looking for is ‘non sequitur’….but in your case it does follow….you have an obsession about FN

          • Plural, Emily.

            That is, more than one.

            And how is land ownership (by whom?) going to induce indians to take up the challenge of education and employment?

          • What FN do is up to them, not you.

            What YOU need to do is talk to your family.

          • So, no answer to the question, and just one more non-sequitur.

            And a confused one besides.

            Whatever ‘first nations’ do is irrelevant to what the indians from them do.

          • Like I said, talk to your family. All your confused posts indicate you need help.

          • Seriously, Emily, how is shuffling ‘land ownership’ (whatever that might entail) going to solve the serious unemployment problems among the indians of NW Ontario?

            There are constant complaints about the high unemployment rates and poor economic performance on ‘first nations’ not only in that area but in many other parts of the country as well.

            Your thesis does not offer any sort of a solution.

          • I think the point shes and the one your not catching is that indians are from india not Canada

          • No, the term “indian” is indeed the official one taken from the eponymous Indian Act.

            It is often unclear whether some people are referring to ‘first nations’ or to the indians who live on them, by the promiscuous use of terms like FN.

            Those are quite different concepts, and I suspect that the neologism ‘first nation’ was invented not only to imply some sort of right of primogeniture, but also to obscure the difference between the two.

            In that manner people might be fooled into thinking policies benefitting ‘first nations’ would be the same thing as policies that benefit the indians who live on them, when in reality it is all too often only the chiefs, as well as their kin and cronies, who benefit from ‘first nations’ policies.

          • GLYNNMHOR ON OCTOBER 21, 2013 AT 10:39 PM said:
            No, the term “Indian” is indeed the official one taken from the eponymous Indian Act.
            It is often unclear whether some people are referring to ‘first nations’ or to the Indians who live on them, by the promiscuous use of terms like FN.

            maybe it WAS! when the act was written over a century ago, but now First Nations refers to the Native Canadian People, The first nation of Canada, not the land that is theirs by right.

  3. What’s a public good? What expectation should northern residents have about receiving (and benefiting from) the same level of public goods as other residents? How do you decide who gets to build what and benefit the most from natural resource extraction? The entity that puts up the most amount of money, the entity that has the most grievances or the entity that is legally responsible for the management of shared resources?

    These are kind of big issues to dive into – especially in comments! But these are the issues Bob Rae has been talking about for the past couple of months; Frank Iacobucci will eventually start talking about; Cliffs is now starting to hint at; and it’s for sure what First Nations and Metis have been talking about for a lot longer.