Chiefs aim to stop [Ring of Fire] review – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – October 21, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. hcarmichael@thesudburystar.com

First Nations leaders will take ‘ alternative measures’ — perhaps including an injunction — to stop an environmental review of Cliffs Natural Resources’ Black Thor chromite deposit in northwestern Ontario.

The Matawa Chiefs also called on Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday to stop the review in favour of a joint environment assessment to be done in conjunction with natives.

“We will be forced to resort to alternative measures if Canada and Ontario continue to ignore the First Nations that are being impacted by the Ring of Fire developments,” Chief Roger Wesley of Constance Lake First Nation said in a release Friday. The Matawa Chiefs — who represent 8,000 people in nine Ojibway and Cree communities — held a news conference Friday in Thunder Bay to discuss their concerns.

They could not be reached for comment as to what those alternative measures could be, but a Thunder Bay radio station reported the First Nations could take legal action and seek an injunction to block the review.

Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources would create as many as 1,300 jobs at its Black Thor chromite mine project, including 400-500 jobs at a processing facility that could be located near Capreol.

Cliffs is looking to open the mine and plant by 2015, but an environmental review process must be done first.

Pat Persico, Cliffs Natural Resources’ senior manager of media relations and marketing, could not be reached for comment on the concerns of the Matawa Chiefs.

Native leaders say that until the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency agrees to a joint review, they will not support the Black Thor project.

On Thursday, the Matawa Chiefs met with Christine Kaszycki, an assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and the ministry’s Ring of Fire co-ordinator.

Kaszycki said she met with the Matawa chiefs Thursday, but Friday’s scheduled meeting did not go ahead.

“The purpose … was to engage in a more comprehensive discussion concerning the Environmental Assessment process — share some information and determining what the First Nation concerns are. We did have a discussion on that.

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