It’s one step ahead and two steps behind lately for the future development of the Ring of Fire. The controversial proposal by Cliffs Natural Resources for an easement to build an all-weather road that would connect to the Ring of Fire was rejected Sept. 10 by the Ontario’s Mining and Lands Commissioner in a 43-page ruling.
“The decision by the commission was very disappointing,” said Jason Aagenes, director of environmental affairs for Cliffs Natural Resources in an interview.
“We view the north-south corridor as critical to the Ring of Fire development as well as a key component of our project. This does jeopardize the viability of the project going forward unless it is resolved.”
The ruling found the easement breaches rival company KWG Resources Inc.’s rights under Ontario’s Mining Act and that Cliffs did not demonstrate the 350-km road is in the public interest. The proposed road would cross over mining claims owned by KWG, an exploration stage company, which staked the ground in 2009 for a future railroad.
Regardless of the decision Aagenes said that Cliffs would move forward and consider all their options after further analysis of the decision.
“This is Crown land and in partnership with First Nations and the traditional land oversight that they possess, we feel that if the Ring of Fire is to proceed, this needs to be addressed by the government,” he said.
Cliffs applied for the easement to build the all-weather road to transport ore from its Black Thor deposit in the Ring of Fire, about 540 km northeast of Thunder Bay, to Nakina, On.
Aagenes said that Cliffs put considerable effort into the proposal stating that a road is a better option than the KWG railroad “idea” because the First Nations would benefit.
“The road would be the best option. The road would allow First Nations to connect to the all-weather road system and create more economic benefit for the First Nation communities as well as other resource companies and government in the region. The province would benefit as a whole,” he said.
KWG formed a subsidiary, Canada Chrome, to oversee the railroad venture which would build a railroad from its isolated Big Daddy chromite deposit south 328 km to a point on the CN line near Nakina.
“We will continue to work with the First Nation communities, the province and other companies in the area to come up with a solution to overcome this significant roadblock,” Aagenes said.