It’s off to court for Cliffs – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – October 11, 2013)

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Cliffs Natural Resources is heading to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to appeal a ruling that denied the Ohio miner access to its Ring of Fire chromite deposit.

In September, the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner ruled against the company which was seeking a road easement atop the mining claims of KWG Resources, a development partner and a rival in the James Bay region.

This week, Toronto-based KWG announced that Cliffs had served them with a notice to appeal.

Bill Boor, Cliffs vice-president of global ferroalloys, said last month they were unlikely to launch an appeal given the length of time it would take to get a hearing and in believing a real solution resided with the Ontario government.

This week, Boor said they decided to exercise that option within the 30-day appeal window, but he’s not hopeful anything will be resolved anytime soon. “We decided to do it but I don’t think it’s the solution.”

Boor called on Queen’s Park to address their problem of securing getting road access to their Black Thor chromite deposit.

“If Ontario wants this project now they’ve put up a heck of a roadblock to it.”

Cliffs has proposed a $3.3-million mine and mill project for the James Bay lowlands and a ferrochrome refinery for Sudbury. The company said it has invested close to $500 million on the project between 2009 and 2012, and is seriously re-evaluating its monthly spending rate.

Boor said if the situation is left unresolved, the company will come to a project decision in the next few months, but didn’t get into specifics.

“The (mining commissioner’s) ruling we got has jeopardized it,” said Boor, who said the company isn’t walking out of Ontario but called the decision a “possible showstopper.”

The company is frustrated with pace of negotiations with the Ontario government since the leadership changeover last winter from Dalton McGuinty to Kathleen Wynne.

Boor said there have been no meaningful discussions on the issues of power rates, a commitment to mining-related infrastructure, and approval on the terms of reference for the project’s environment assessment.

“This is a large complex project with a lot of people with an interest in it. Companies cannot drive it alone.”

 

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