Greenstone excited to be Ring of Fire ‘gateway’ – by Bryan Meadows (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – September 16, 2012)

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

The Municipality of Greenstone is going to be busy place over the next couple of decades, its Mayor Renald Beaulieu predicts. “More and more it is becoming clear that the municipality is emerging as the gateway to the Ring of Fire,” Beaulieu said Friday.

He cited Noront Resources Ltd.’s release last week of its updated feasibility study, and talk of a new power transmission route east of Lake Nipigon as reasons for his optimism. Beaulieu noted that Noront’s “base case” for its Eagle’s Nest mining project is predicated on transporting Ring of Fire ore using the proposed north-south corridor, with a southern terminus in Greenstone’s Nakina ward.

“For decades, Nakina was viewed as the end of the road, but,” he said, “increasingly it seems that Nakina, a proud part of Greenstone, will soon be seen as the start of the road.” A second development that has the mayor excited is that the Ontario Power Authority is now considering an east of Lake Nipigon transmission corridor.

OPA has informed the Northwest Ontario First Nations Transmission Planning Committee that it is now studying the transmission line route, Beaulieu said. The proposed transmission line would supply the Ring of Fire and bring grid-connected electricity to First Nations such as Marten Falls.

“Transmission lines are like ribbons of prosperity,” Beaulieu said, adding that the east of Lake Nipigon route was a key feature of Greenstone’s Kick Start for the Northwest report released in 2011. The Kick Start plan outlined how an expanded and reinforced electricity grid benefits the entire Northwest.

Beaulieu suggested that “a shared road and transmission corridor north from the Nakina area would align with the provincial policy statement that requires consideration of multi-use transportation/utility corridors.

“Even more importantly, a stable electrical supply for First Nation communities currently dependent on diesel generators can address a lot of social and economic disadvantages,” he said, adding that “we are committed to continue working with Matawa First Nations and the Nipigon chiefs and communities as all our interests related to transmission are very well aligned.”

Noront Resources released an updated feasibility study for its Eagle’s Nest Project earlier this month.

The company said that the report, an industry standard of disclosure for mineral projects, “confirms that Eagle’s Nest offers robust economics” for a stand-alone nickel, copper, platinum-group element mine and mill complex in the McFauld’s Lake area of the Ring of Fire.

“The decision of the province of Ontario to financially support the north-south road corridor pending certain approvals is a very positive development in unlocking the mineral wealth of the Ring of Fire,” Noront CEO Wes Hanson said in a news release.

According to the Eagle’s Nest feasibility study, the mine would produce about 150,000 tonnes of high grade nickel-copper concentrate per year with a mine life of about 11 years.

Meanwhile, the company continues to consult with area First Nations and is progressing through the environmental permitting process with the Ontario Ministry of Environment and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

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