The best, most cost-efficient and environmentally responsible manner to provide transportation into and out of the Ring of Fire development is a railway, according to Ontario Northland’s General Chairperson’s Association.
Brian Kelly issued the statement Thursday in response to this week’s decision by the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner to dismiss the application by Cliffs Natural Resources for an easement to allow that company to build an all-weather road over mining claims staked by KWG Resources.
“A private, provincially funded $700 million-plus road is in no one’s best interest, least of all taxpayers,” the GCA spokesperson said.
“This Mining and Land Commissioner decision finally quashes this ill-conceived scheme to sink millions upon millions of taxpayers’ dollars into a private road built through muskeg that would require millions upon millions of more tax dollars to maintain the road on a yearly basis. This single purpose road would do nothing to improve the social and economic development for First Nation’s communities in the region.”
Last fall, the GCA unveiled a proposal that would, in consultation with the government of Ontario, government of Canada and First Nations, create a new federal Crown corporation that would see all ONTC assets including its telecom division Ontera transferred, the release said.
This new Crown corporation would provide an expanded and revitalized, integrated transportation and communication system across the north while having the ability to obtain financing to design and build a railway into the Ring of Fire that would ship thousands of tons per day of chromite, nickel, other minerals and finished products to markets around the world.
“We call upon the Minister of Northern Development and Premier Wynne to bring to an end to the years of bureaucratic Northern Growth rhetoric and stand up for Northerners and initiate the meaningful dialogue with federal government and First Nations that is needed to create significant new job and economic opportunities in Ontario’s North for the benefit of the North,” Kelly said.
Cliffs has 30 days to decide if it will appeal the ruling, which KWG’s Moe Lavigne heralded as “vindication” of his company’s interpretation of the Ontario Mining Act. However, he said development of the Ring of Fire could be pushed back years if Cliffs does appeal the ruling.
The commissioner dismissed an application by a subsidiary of Cliffs for an easement over mining claims staked in the Ring of Fire by Canada Chrome Corp., a subsidiary of rival KWG Resources Ltd.
Through 2274659 Ontario Inc., Cliffs applied for the easement to build an all-weather road to transport ore from its Black Thor deposit in the Ring of Fire, about 540 kilometres Northeast of Thunder Bay, to Nakina. From there, it would be shipped by rail to a ferrochrome processing plant to be built in Capreol.
If Cliffs doesn’t appeal the decision, it must pay KWG’s costs to fight the application at the tribunal, which sat for several days in February, expenses estimated by Lavigne at $1 million.
Lavigne, vice-president of exploration and development for KWG and Canada Chrome, said his company will move ahead with discussions about reviving the rail portion of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and creating a port authority to run a rail line.
If Cliffs appeals the ruling, the case would be heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice or it would go to a judicial review. It could take five years for those appeals to work their way through the courts, Lavigne said.
In a statement, Cliffs’ spokeswoman Patricia Persico said the Cleveland-based company is considering all its options before deciding if it will appeal.
The decision was “disappointing,” said Persico in an email.
For the original version of this article, click here: http://www.nugget.ca/2013/09/12/rail-best-option-for-ring-of-fire-union-says