Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Mining

Ontario Premier pushing for quick action on Ring of Fire project – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – May 26, 2017)

“Very soon.” That’s the best answer Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne gave while commenting on when Ontario might see some progress on the Ring of Fire mining development, located in the James Bay Lowlands.

Wynne made the comment in Timmins Thursday morning where she was speaking at the Timmins Family YMCA and meeting with community leaders. While the premier was promoting her government’s Children and Youth Pharmacare Program, she also met with reporters to talk about her tour across Northern Ontario.

In responding to a question about the fact that Timmins is a mining supply community, as well as being a mining town, the premier was asked when the government might be expected to be more proactive in helping the Ring of Fire project to move forward. Continue Reading →

Innovation, First Nations key to resource development – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – May 26, 2017)

The Ontario government’s goals of fostering a culture of innovation and enhancing relationships with Indigenous people and communities are key to its mineral development strategy, including development of the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario, Christine Kaszycki said on Thursday.

Kaszycki, the assistant deputy minister for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines mines and minerals division, also spoke about opportunities for the Sudbury region during a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Copper Cliff Italian Club.

“I think most folks would agree that innovation to improve productivity, decrease costs, will be key to the long-term sustainability of the mining sector,” Kaszycki said. “In order to foster the innovation that’s required, requires an environment of collaboration.” Continue Reading →

Premier expects Ring of Fire progress ‘within weeks’ – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – May 24, 2017)

Movement on a Ring of Fire infrastructure plan should come “within weeks, not months,” Premier Kathleen Wynne told a gathering hosted by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. “I think we’ll find a way to move forward,” she said. “Nobody in the province wants a shovel in the ground more than I do.”

The premier was responding to a question from a Laurentian Mining Innovation and Technology representative, who pointed out promising times lie ahead for the industry.

“Mining is a very cyclical sector and we’re heading into a boom now,” he said. “But mining does need some support and there’s an amazing opportunity for us, with $60 billion in the Ring of Fire that’s locked up.” Continue Reading →

How to finally ignite Ontario’s Ring of Fire – by Heather Hall and Ken S. Coates (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – May 23, 2017)

Premier Kathleen Wynne has jumped into the long-standing debate over the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario. Last week, she called on northern chiefs to seize the province’s offer to spend $1 billion on crucial road development and to not “squander” the opportunity for economic development in an area desperate for work and social improvements.

The premier’s blunt intervention is a sign of the pent-up frustration among governments, companies and indigenous communities about the slow progress and endless negotiations surrounding the region’s vast deposits of chromite, nickel and other minerals.

While the premier may feel frustration, in Northern Ontario there is a widespread feeling in many indigenous communities that the infrastructure needs of resource firms get more attention from government than the serious community infrastructure deficits that have existed for years. Many indigenous communities in Northern Ontario, especially in the Far North, have to deal with a variety of deplorable conditions, including over-crowded housing, a lack of clean drinking water, limited or non-existent road access, and a myriad of social, economic and cultural challenges. Continue Reading →

AuRico Gold, First Nations ink impact benefit accord – by Henry Lazenby ( – May 19, 2017)

VANCOUVER ( – TSX-listed AuRico Metals and First Nations surrounding the Kemess underground project have signed an impact benefits agreement (IBA) for the Kemess underground project, in British Columbia, solidifying local relationships and ensuring the project provides economic opportunities and benefits to the region and local stakeholders.

Toronto-based AuRico signed the IBA with the Takla Lake, Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha First Nations, who are together called the Tse Keh Nay (TKN) – an alliance of three Sekani First Nations.

The IBA provides a framework that formalises the long-term cooperative relationship between AuRico and the TKN First Nations over the life of the project. The IBA captures the mutual commitment to consult and maintain an open, respectful and cooperative relationship throughout the development and operation of the Kemess underground project. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: HOW TO REIGNITE THE RING OF FIRE AND MINING IN NORTHERN ONTARIO – by Heather Hall and Ken Coates (Macdonald-Laurier Institute – May 18, 2017)

To read the full paper, titled “Missed Opportunities, Glimmers of Hope: Aboriginal communities and mineral development in Northern Ontario”, click here.

MLI paper charts a path through the conflict between First Nations, business and government in Northern Ontario’s mining sectors

OTTAWA, May 18, 2017 – The potential of the Ring of Fire, a large-scale mineral deposit in Northern Ontario, to bring prosperity to Indigenous communities remains trapped under a simmering conflict.

First Nations, governments, and mining companies continue to debate issues such as the responsibility for infrastructure development, support for First Nation communities across much of Northern Ontario, and conflict between the governments of Ontario and Canada.

How can we push through the stalemate to create viable solutions that permit development to proceed?

Heather Hall and Ken Coates, in a paper for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, chart a path forward for the Ring of Fire and mining in Northern Ontario. Continue Reading →

Exclusive – Australian billionaire uses indigenous land laws to keep prospectors off farm – by Jonathan Barrett (Reuters U.K. – May 18, 2017)

SYDNEY – Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has used laws designed to protect indigenous land rights to stop prospectors searching for minerals on his West Australian cattle farms, angering both traditional Aboriginal landowners and mining community members.

While tensions between the competing interests of indigenous landholders, pastoral leaseholders and miners on government-controlled land are common, Forrest’s approach represents one of the first known examples of a non-Aboriginal successfully using rights afforded to indigenous people to their own advantage.

Native title is a legal doctrine in Australia that recognises indigenous rights to certain parcels of land. Forrest’s use of it is not illegal, but it adds to the fractious relationship he has with some indigenous groups. Different groups have raised concerns over Forrest’s cattle interests and have battled over land rights with the company he founded and chairs – Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX), the world’s fourth biggest iron ore miner. Continue Reading →

Missed Opportunities, Glimmers of Hope: How to move forward with the Ring of Fire (CBC News Sudbury – May 18, 2017)

A new report out today is taking a closer look at the relationships between mining companies, the government and First Nations communities when it comes to development of the Ring of Fire.

The report, called Missed Opportunities, Glimmers of Hope was written by Heather Hall and Ken Coates. Coates is a senior fellow with the MacDonald-Laurier Institute and Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation.

He calls the project one of Canada’s most remarkable mineral deposits. The Ring of Fire is a huge mineral deposit of chromite, nickel, gold, copper and platinum discovered in 2007. It’s located in a remote area in northern Ontario with limited access. Even though it was discovered a decade ago, Coates says not much has happened so far in developing the project, beyond talks between First Nations communities and mining companies. Continue Reading →

New workplan developed to fix flagging Inuit job numbers at iron mine – by Steve Ducharme (Nunatsiaq News – May 17, 2017)

Inuit employment rate at Baffinland’s Mary River mine dwindles to 12 per cent

As the Inuit employment rate continues to fall at the Mary River iron mine, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. say an annual work plan approved this week promises better resources for training and hiring local workers.

The plan, mentioned in a May 14 QIA media release, addresses employment goals that have never materialized since the partners signed their original Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement in 2013, which has since funnelled more than $40 million dollars into QIA coffers.

But as the money has rolled in, Inuit employment rates have declined steadily—falling far short of the 25 per cent minimum Inuit employment target promised in 2016. Currently, that number sits at 12 per cent, down from 16.7 per cent reported in the first half of 2016 and 20.3 per cent reported in 2014. Continue Reading →

Ontario Premier warns First Nations about delays in Ring of Fire talks – by Allison Jones (Global News – May 12, 2017)

The Canadian Press – TORONTO – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne signalled this week to First Nations in the province’s north that she’s willing to abandon joint talks with them over building roads into the Ring of Fire region.

The provincial government has been talking with the chiefs of the nine Matawa First Nations for years, since it pledged $1 billion in 2014 to fund infrastructure into the chromite-rich area.

That funding promise was repeated in the government’s budget for the next two years, but was not in this year’s budget. Wynne said in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., earlier this week that commitment stands, but she told the chiefs that if Ontario is going to deliver on it, there can’t be any more delays. Continue Reading →

Why Canada may have missed the boat on building a viable LNG industry – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – May 6, 2017)

“The company now owns the only LNG project out of the 20 or so proposed for
the B.C. coast that is poised for takeoff. The rest are on hold, being
restructured or dropped, casualties of snail-paced government decision-
making, tough regulations, environmental and aboriginal opposition, and
changing market conditions, while the United States has already forged
a formidable LNG industry of its own.”

SQUAMISH, B.C. — The race to build a liquefied natural gas industry in British Columbia has had many twists and turns this decade and could be headed for another sharp one if the May 9 provincial election results in a change in government. But one of the oddest is found by taking a boat across Howe Sound — a network of spectacular fjords just north of Vancouver — to an abandoned pulp mill site on the traditional territory of the Squamish Nation.

The tranquil area, flanked by mountains and accessible only by water or helicopter, used to house a bustling community of nearly 1,000 people who toiled in one of Canada’s busiest mills, known as Woodfibre, complete with staff housing, bowling alleys and even churches.

The mill was shut down in 2006 after a century of operation, leaving behind significant environmental damage; a cluster of buildings including an ample warehouse, an old power station and storm-damaged docks that either had to be fixed or demolished; and an aboriginal community motivated to see its ancestral land cleaned up and put to good use. Continue Reading →

Premier feeling the heat from Ring of Fire – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – May 12, 2017)

Wynne reportedly upset over lack of First Nation consensus on access road

Premier Kathleen Wynne is reportedly getting tough with northern First Nation chiefs over hold-ups in the construction of a Ring of Fire road.

The Globe and Mail obtained a recent letter from an impatient Wynne to the nine Matawa chiefs indicating her government can’t afford any more delays and is prepared to start one-on-one negotiations with individual communities that do want development, if consensus can’t be reached.

For three years, the Ontario government has promised to invest $1 billion for mining-related transportation infrastructure but the money hasn’t been released in three successive budgets, including this past April’s spring budget. Continue Reading →

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Letter to the Ring of Fire First Nations Chiefs About Transportation Infrastructure (May 10, 2017)

May 10, 2017

Chief Dorothy Towedo (Aroland First Nation); Chief Elizabeth Atlookan (Eabametoong First Nation); Chief Veronica Waboose (Long Lake #58 First Nation); Chief Wayne Moonias (Neskantaga First Nation); Chief Cornelius Wabasse (Webequie First Nation); Chief Rick Allen (Constance Lake First Nation); Chief Celia Echum (Ginoogaming First Nation); Chief Bruce Achneepineskum (Marten Falls First Nation); Chief Johnny Yellowhead (Nibinamik First Nation)

Dear Chiefs,

I wish to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to meet with you on Monday, May 1, 2017.

We have worked together since signing the Regional Framework Agreement (RFA), including three meetings since October 2016, to advance Ring of Fire developments in a collaborative way that will bring benefits to all of us.

As I have emphasized to you in all three meetings, we want to be positioned to take advantage of Ontario’s proposals of financial support for infrastructure and related development in the Ring of Fire region. Three years after signing the RFA, the time has now come to make some decisions that will move us forward. This is especially true when it comes to connecting remote communities to all-season road infrastructure. Continue Reading →

Premier wants ‘shovels in the ground’ at Ring of Fire – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – May 12, 2017)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne committed Thursday to consult with Northern Ontario municipal leaders on economic development strategies for the region.

Wynne told delegates at the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) conference that’s she’s “absolutely open” to a suggestion brought to her during the event that she sit down with the mayors of Northern Ontario’s five largest municipalities, as well as the heads of FONOM and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, to discuss economic development.

Although the province is already working on an economic development plan, Wynne said she wants to hear from the groups in order to get an immediate take on what some of the opportunities may be and to discuss ways to improve what’s being done. Continue Reading →

Wynne pushes Ring of Fire chiefs for decision on regional road – by Gloria Galloway (Globe and Mail – May 12, 2017)

OTTAWA – Premier Kathleen Wynne is warning fly-in First Nations in Northern Ontario they must quickly agree on the construction of a road into their region – one that would also serve mining interests in the so-called Ring of Fire – or she will negotiate unilaterally with those communities that want the project.

It has been three years since the Ontario government said it would spend up to $1-billion to create an all-season road that would make development possible in the massive cache of chromite and other minerals as it connects to some reserves that are not currently accessible by car.

But little progress has been made, in part because the First Nations do not agree among themselves on how to proceed and are concerned about losing jurisdictional rights in the process. Negotiations with provincial officials have not always been productive. Continue Reading →