2nd March 2015

Ring of Fire road study needs wider lens, environmental group says – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – March 2, 2015)


“No one is saying, ‘Holy cannolis, what are all the plans for the region for the next 20 – 30 years?’”

Government funding for a $785,000 study of a road to the Ring of Fire is a “welcome move” for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, but the environmental group says more needs to be done to look at the region-wide impacts of the proposed mining development in northern Ontario.

The federal and provincial governments announced Sunday that they’ll jointly fund a study looking at a road that would connect the remote Webequie, Eabametoong, Nibinamik and Neskantaga First Nations to the provincial highway at Pickle Lake, Ont. about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

The environmental group hopes it acts as a “springboard” for further study and a comprehensive, region-wide development plan for the nickel and chromite deposits in northern Ontario’s James Bay lowlands.

“Once a road goes in, it has a whole cascade of effects,” said Anna Baggio, the Ontario planning director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Wildlands League. “There are alternatives in terms of where these roads could go and that needs to be looked at and fully costed and accounted for in a transparent way.” Read the rest of this entry »

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2nd March 2015

Ottawa, Queen’s Park fund Ring of Fire road study – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – March 01, 2015)


Will spend $732K in a First Nations-led initiative

First Nations in Ontario’s Far North are being empowered to have a say on a future road to reach the stranded chromite and nickel deposits in the Ring of Fire.

Four Aboriginal communities in the vicinity of the isolated mineral belt in the James Bay lowlands received more than $732,000 from the federal and provincial governments to conduct a Regional Community Service Corridor study.

In championing it as a First Nation-led initiative, federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford and Ontario’s Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle kicked off the opening of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual convention in Toronto on March 1 with the joint announcement.

The partnership involves the remote communities of Webequie, Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Nibinamik. The money will cover the costs of satellite imagery and GIS mapping of the terrain in the James Bay region, combined with an extensive consultation process with the area communities that is expected to take four to six months. Read the rest of this entry »

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2nd March 2015

Roads from riches in Ring of Fire – by Rick Millette (Timmins Daily Press – March 1, 2015)


Rick Millette is a Senior Executive Director/Ring of Fire at Northern Policy Institute.

What is the one thing that would make living in Ontario’s far North communities better? If you asked that question to seven people knowledgeable about the North, you might very well get seven different answers. Clean drinking water. Functional sewer systems. Quality education. Improved health services. Reliable electricity. Healthy food at affordable prices. Better housing.

To a large degree, this wish list stems from the fact that Ontario’s far North communities are accessible only by air for most of the year. These challenges rarely exist for communities with road access.

Astronomically high costs are attached to anyone or anything that has to fly to these places. If the weather cooperates, a winter ice road might provide a month or two of access in every year. There have been poor weather conditions in recent years attributed to global warming. If the pattern continues, winter road construction and use will be progressively problematic.

So what is the one thing that would make living in the far North better? Answer: a network of year-round roads. While there are correlations to improving the quality of life at all levels through road access, none illustrate the benefits more strongly or tangibly than food and fuel. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th February 2015

PDAC: How payment transparency helps gain a social licence to operate (Canadian Mining Journal – February 26, 2015)


Corporate social responsibility is front-and-centre at this year’s Prospectors and Developers of Canada meeting. One not to be missed session about the ideas that will shape the future of CSR will be held Monday, March 2 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm in Room 717 of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

CMJ had an opportunity to talk with one of the presenters, O Trade founder Monica Ospina, about the importance of transparency in payment and its role in obtaining a social licence to operate.

CMJ: What does “transparency in payments” mean for the extractive industry?

MO: It means the open disclosure of all payments made to the government by the extractive industry on a project-by-project basis. The purpose is to inform people about payments of royalties and taxes by the industry and about the amounts received by their government.

A shift towards transparency in payments would also accompany legislative changes concerning the distribution of royalties. Specifically, governments would make clear how royalties and taxes could be distributed at the federal or national, regional and municipality levels. Such practices can be seen, for example, in Mexico, Colombia and Peru, where legislation has reshaped the way income is distributed and how democracy works at the grassroots level. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th February 2015

Getting to Yes has never been tougher – by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail – February 27, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Mines and forest projects can face the same procedural snakes and ladders.
In Northern Ontario, the so-called Ring of Fire chromite deposits will be
tied up for years and years in environment reviews and aboriginal demands.
Already, the major U.S. company interested in developing the deposits has
walked away. Who could blame it? (Jeffrey Simpson – Globe and Mail)

Forget for a moment U.S. President Barack Obama’s doubts about the Keystone XL pipeline. Whether the President decides for or against the project shouldn’t deflect Canadians from asking within their own borders: How do we get to Yes?

Getting to Yes is becoming harder all the time. Fossil-fuel developments, pipelines, mines, dams, hydro-electric transmission lines and wind turbines are frequently contested, delayed or blocked.

Even when they’re approved, the process for getting to Yes can take so long that projects lose their economic rationale, as with the now-abandoned Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, which shuddered to a halt after 10 years of review because the gas market had changed. Or, projects are postponed or killed because they face tough competition from overseas suppliers where approvals are not so protracted. Proposed liquefied natural gas projects in British Columbia face this very risk. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th February 2015

Pebble Mine debate in Alaska: EPA becomes target by planning for rare ‘veto’ – by Joby Warrick (Washington Post – February 15, 2015)


Just north of Iliamna Lake in southwestern Alaska is an empty expanse of marsh and shrub that conceals one of the world’s great buried fortunes: A mile-thick layer of virgin ore said to contain at least 6.7 million pounds — or $120 billion worth — of gold.

As fate would have it, a second treasure sits precisely atop the first: the spawning ground for the planet’s biggest runs of sockeye salmon, the lifeline of a fishery that generates $500 million a year.

Between the two is the Obama administration, which has all but decided that only one of the treasures can be brought to market. How the White House came to side with fish over gold is a complex tale that involves millionaire activists, Alaska Natives, lawsuits and one politically explosive question: Can the federal government say no to a property owner before he has a chance to explain what he wants to do?

As early as this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to invoke a rarely used legal authority to bar a Canadian company, Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., from beginning work on its proposed Pebble Mine, citing risks to salmon and to Alaska’s pristine Bristol Bay, 150 miles downstream.

The EPA’s position is supported by a broad coalition of conservationists, fishermen and tribal groups — and, most opinion polls show, by a majority of Alaskans. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Gold and Silver, Mining Conflict, United States Mining and History | 0 Comments

26th February 2015

Moosonee railway extension gaining momentum – by Len Gillis (Timmins Times – February 25, 2015)


Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Lawrence Martin will be joining the chiefs of the Matawa Tribal Council at the annual prospectors’ convention in Toronto next week to outline his plans for a new railway line running from Moosonee to the Ring Of Fire mining project.

Martin said he met with Neskantaga Chief Peter Moonias earlier this week to outline the idea, but Martin said Moonias could not make any sort of a commitment on behalf of the Matawa First Nations, which is claiming territorial jurisdiction over the mining area. Martin said however there is growing support for Mushkegowuk.

Regardless, grand chief Martin said the idea is gaining momentum and more people are willing to listen to the idea. He said he expects mining executives at the Prospectors and Developers Convention next week will be interested in hearing the proposal, given the overall interest in the mining project.

The Ring of Fire is the name give to a huge deposit of chromite located in the McFauld’s Lake and Webequie area, about 600 kilometres north west of Timmins. Chromite is an important mineral element in manufacturing stainless steel. The Ring of Fire area could become the largest chromite mining site in North America, a venture measured in the tens of billions of dollars.

In January, Martin revealed the idea of creating a rail link across Mushkegowuk territory into the Ring Of Fire area with a two-pronged objective; one to bring in a rail link and secondly to bring in a high-voltage energy transmission line. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Mining Power Issues, Mining Railway Issues, Northern Ontario/Canada Regional Media, Ontario Mining, Ontario's Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery | 0 Comments

25th February 2015

Nunatsiavut president Sarah Leo ‘quite disturbed’ over Vale agreement – (CBC News Newfoundland – February 25, 2015)


The Inuit government in Labrador isn’t happy with the announcement of changes to the Voisey’s Bay agreement, which will allow Vale to continue exporting unprocessed ore from the massive nickel mine.

Nunatsiavut president Sarah Leo said the Newfoundland and Labrador government was required to consult the Inuit because the mine is on land connected to their land agreement with the provincial and federal governments.

“We should’ve been consulted — I mean, it’s in our backyard. It’s right here,” she said. “We have a land claims agreement that specifically has a chapter dedicated to the Voisey’s Bay project,” Leo told CBC News. “So, it’s very important to us that we have an understanding and are involved in what’s happening with the project.”

On Tuesday, Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley and Vale VP Stuart Macnaughton announced that they were amending the Voisey’s Bay Development Agreement to allow the company to send nickel concentrate from the mine in Labrador to Ontario and Manitoba for processing.

The delay is connected to delays in completing Vale’s massive processing facility in Long Harbour, in Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay. Read the rest of this entry »

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24th February 2015

Fraser Institute, junior miners slam Ontario Mining Act – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – February 24, 2015)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

The uncertainty created by the Ontario government in its mishandling of First Nations consultation were cited by the Fraser Institute in its choice to drop the province down in its annual rankings of global mining-friendly jurisdictions.

Ontario placed 23rd, falling nine spots from last year’s survey. Much of the blame is being placed on the regulatory and policy confusion created within the resource industry stemming from the province’s amendments to the Mining Act and in dealing with First Nations issues.

“In Ontario, the new Mining Act amendments regarding First Nations consultation have resulted in complete incomprehensibility of rights on all sides,” said Kenneth Green, the institute’s senior director of energy and natural resources, in a Feb. 24 news release.

The Calgary-based think tank annually ranks 122 jurisdictions around the world based on geological attractiveness, government policy and investment.

The report included a survey and comments from mining companies on operating in Ontario. One respondent aid the act has resulted in “near-veto powers against exploration” by First Nations concerning their traditional lands, while other called it an “impractical regulation” that’s caused a “misinterpretation of rights on all sides.” Read the rest of this entry »

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23rd February 2015

B.C. mines minister aims for right audience with next trip to Alaska – by Tamsyn Burgmann (Canadian Press/Vancouver Sun – February 22, 2015)


VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s mines minister is making plans to visit Alaska’s indigenous fishing community after admitting his first trip to the state following the Mount Polley disaster addressed “probably the wrong audience.”

Bill Bennett spoke at a major mining industry conference last fall, but met with none of the tribal groups in the southeast region presumed most threatened by upstream mining across the border in B.C.

In retrospect, Bennett said people living off the sea in the transboundary region have every right to be concerned about mines in his province, but that he wants to stem the rising anxiety by sharing more information.

“They do not have the kind of information and understanding of how we do things here in British Columbia that they need to have, and that’s probably our fault,” he told The Canadian Press. “I think that we can relieve some of these fears.”

Bennett has asked a binational economic think-tank to consider organizing a symposium to bring both sides together in one of the southeastern Alaska towns at the heart of its multibillion-dollar fishing industry.

Bennett said he hopes the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region will convene a forum in a few months to share best practices and raise awareness about B.C.’s “rigorous” permitting process. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, British Columbia Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Mining Environmental Accidents, United States Mining and History | 0 Comments

20th February 2015

Resolution of Native Land Claim Settlements Critical to Future of Canadian Economy – by David Duval (The Duval Report – February 17, 2015)


In economic terms at least, Canadians have often been described somewhat simplistically as “hewers of wood and drawers of water” – that is to say our economy is essentially resource-based.

While the contribution of natural resources (primarily energy, metals and minerals) to Canada’s Gross National Product remains at record highs, never before has this sector’s contribution to our economic success been so important – and more threatened.

The elephant in the room is the ongoing legal challenges pursued by Aboriginal peoples who are seeking to resolve past injustices and assert their constitutionally guaranteed legal rights over resource development on their traditional lands.

Canadians are generally naive about the impact of commodity prices and resource development on the nation’s economy. The same applies to the consequences of not resolving longstanding native land claim issues which, incidentally, are supported by British colonial policy. In fact, that colonial policy recognized Aboriginal tribes as sovereign nations whose title to the land was recognized by English law and international law.

According to Bill Gallagher LLB, an authority on the rise of native empowerment in the Canadian resources sector, First Nations have achieved an enviable record of success pursuing land claims issues in the courts. More than 203 rulings countrywide have gone in their favour so far. In British Columbia, where unsettled claims have fueled resistance to projects such as Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline, (which has over 200 preconditions for development) and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, their record is 11 out of 13. Read the rest of this entry »

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17th February 2015

Ottawa sends $2M in bottled water to First Nation – by Joanna Smith (Toronto Star – February 15, 2015)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Marten Falls First Nation, a remote reserve that’s been under a boil-water advisory since 2005, relies on water bottles flown in by the government.

OTTAWA—The Conservative government has spent at least $2 million flying bottled water to a small aboriginal community in northern Ontario that has been without its own source of drinkable water for a decade.

“All of our landfill is filled with plastic bottles,” Linda Moonias, the band manager of Marten Falls First Nation, a fly-in reserve about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., said in a telephone interview Friday.

“It’s totally ludicrous,” said Bruce Achneepineskum, the interim chief of the reserve near the proposed Ring of Fire mining development.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has been reimbursing Marten Falls for the cost of sending bottled water from Thunder Bay by airplane since Health Canada issued a boil-water advisory for the remote community of about 335 people on July 18, 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Ontario's Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery | 0 Comments

13th February 2015

Agnico Eagle reports good financial performance in 2014 (Nunatsiaq News – February 13, 2015)


Firm optimistic about new Amaruq deposit near Meadowbank

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., operator of Nunavut’s Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake and the Meliadine gold project near Rankin Inlet, posted earnings of $83 million for the year 2014, the company said in financial statements released near the end of the day Feb. 11.

That’s a big improvement over the $686.7 million net loss they reported in 2013. And the company’s president and CEO, Sean Boyd, said reduced fuel costs and favorable currency exchange rates, including a lower Canadian dollar, will help them in 2015.

“With projected year-over-year production growth of 12 per cent, lower fuel costs and weaker local currencies anticipated in Canada, Mexico and Finland, we expect to have another strong year in 2015,” Boyd said in the news release.

Minus certain non-recurring items, the company earned $16.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. That compares favorably with a net loss of $780.3 million reported over the same period of 2013.

Boyd, in an interview with the Business News Network broadcast Feb. 12, said the company holds high hopes for the Amaruq deposit, located north of Meadowbank. After about 18 months of exploration, AEM estimates the site holds 1.5 million ounces of gold. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Canada Mining, Gold and Silver, Northern Ontario/Canada Regional Media | 0 Comments

12th February 2015

Indigenous Canadians Are Fighting the Uranium Mining Industry – by Michael Toledano (Vice Canada – February 11, 2015)


This post originally appeared on VICE Canada.

On November 22, 2014, a small group of Dene trappers called the Northern Trappers Alliance set up a checkpoint on Saskatchewan’s Highway 955, allowing locals to pass while blockading the industrial traffic of tar sands and uranium exploration companies. On December 1, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police descended on the site with an injunction from the province and forcibly dismantled the blockade.

Eighty days later, the trappers remain camped on the side of the highway in weather that has routinely dipped below -40 C. They are constructing a permanent cabin on the site that will be a meeting place for Dene people and northern land defenders.

“We want industry to get the hell out of here and stop this killing,” said Don Montgrand, who has been at the encampment since day one and was named as one of its leaders on the police injunction. “We want this industry to get the hell out before we lose any more people here. We lose kids, adults, teenagers.”

“They’re willing to stay as long as it takes to get the point across that any of this kind of development is not going to be welcomed,” said Candyce Paul, the alliance’s spokesperson and a member of the anti-nuclear Committee for the Future Generations. “It’s indefinite.” Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Canada Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Mining Conflict | 0 Comments

12th February 2015

Eagle Spirit pipeline plan obtains ‘licence’ as B.C. First Nations chiefs sign on to project – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – February 12, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Just as proposed bitumen pipelines through British Columbia seemed hopeless because of widespread opposition, backers of the aboriginal-led Eagle Spirit pipeline plan announced a major breakthrough Wednesday. The group has solid support from the province’s First Nations for its $14-billion-to-$16-billion project linking Alberta’s oil sands to the West Coast and an invitation to the oil community and the Alberta government to get on board.

What made the difference? The one million barrel-a-day pipeline plan, plus a possible refinery that would cost extra, started with getting First Nations involved, offering them a large equity stake, and obtaining their ‘social licence.’ There were also growing concerns about transportation of oil by rail, which aboriginals see as inevitable if oil pipelines aren’t built. And there was encouragement from Alberta First Nations familiar with resource development and benefiting from the oil sands business.

“We are very cognizant of how important this is to Canada, and Alberta in particular, and we have a solution,” Calvin Helin, chairman and president of Vancouver-based Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd., and a member of the Tsimshian First Nation in northwestern B.C., said Wednesday at a news conference in Calgary. “The chiefs came out today to say they are prepared to be partners.” Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image | 0 Comments

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