10th September 2014

Ring of Fire: First Nations scold Mines Minister Michael Gravelle – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – September 10, 2014)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay

First Nations ‘grow weary’ of being shut out of decisions

CBC News has obtained letters from several First Nations in the Ring of Fire detailing a breakdown in the relationship with Ontario that could threaten the already fragile mining project.

Chiefs are reacting to the Aug. 28 announcement that the new Ring of Fire Infrastructure Development Corporation was established with an interim board, made up of four senior Ontario civil servants, and no First Nations representatives.

“I am growing weary of your lack of attention to EFN’s [Eabametoong First Nation's] concerns and our clearly stated request to work collaboratively,” wrote Chief Elizabeth Atlookan in an Aug. 29 letter to Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle.

“I know you have heard EFN’s concerns, but the MNDM continued to push this item forward, particularly in the press,” Atlookan wrote.

“So, are we to be ‘key’ partners in this potential development, as your press release states, if EFN’s legitimate requests are being ignored? Not likely.” Gravelle said the Aug. 28 announcement was necessary to meet an election promise, and to appease “other interests.” Read the rest of this entry »

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

10th September 2014

Ring of Fire: Miners urged Ont. to ‘seize opportunity’ – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – September 10, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

There are many reasons it’s taken longer to develop the Ring of Fire than expected, and there are lessons to be learned from that.

One is when the mining industry tells government, “You’ve got to seize the opportunity,” it’s true, says the president and chief executive officer of the Mining Association of Canada.

That’s what the industry told the government of Ontario several years ago when metal prices were really strong, said Pierre Gratton.

It would be good to have some of those mines in production or at least going into construction now, Gratton told The Sudbury Star before speaking at the 2014 North America Mining Expo Gala Dinner on Tuesday night at the Caruso Club.

“Now it’s more challenging for the Noronts of this world to raise capital,” said Gratton, “and it’s all been because we’ve struggled with issues we ought not to be struggling with.”

They include roads, who owns what land, protracted government issues and uncertainty around First Nations and their level of participation in developing the area. On a more positive note, Gratton said some of the building blocks for real long-term success in the Ring of Fire are being put into place. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Northern Ontario/Canada Regional Media, Ontario's Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery | 0 Comments

10th September 2014

First Nations leadership complain of inadequate Ring of Fire consultation from province – by Matt Vis (tbnewswatch.com – September 10, 2014)

http://www.tbnewswatch.com/

Neskantaga First Nation, Ont. — Another First Nation close to the Ring of Fire is calling out the Ontario government for their handling of the newly created development corporation.

Neskantaga First Nation chief Peter Moonias last week sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle and Minister of Natural Resources Bill Mauro, expressing disappointment with inadequate consultation from the province.

“It didn’t happen in this case,” Moonias said in a telephone interview Tuesday, saying he was not contacted until shortly before the announcement.

“It’s not that I don’t support (the development corporation). It’s just the way it was done. The framework agreement was signed by the chiefs and the province of Ontario to work together to develop the Ring of Fire together with decisions being made by the province and First Nations communities.”

The province in late August officially created the development corporation, a non-profit organization first announced late last year that is intended to bridge together First Nations, industry and senior levels of government to propel Ring of Fire development.

It became a pillar of the Liberal government’s Ring of Fire development strategy in the spring election, with Wynne vowing to establish it within 60 days of taking office. Read the rest of this entry »

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10th September 2014

Making sure First Nations gain from resource development – by Brian Davey (Onotassiniik Magazine – Fall 2014)

http://onotassiniik.com/

Brian Davey is the Executive Director of the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund

Much has been said about the Ring of Fire, impact and benefit agreements, new mines coming online, new infrastructure and employment opportunities. Many First Nation communities are probably wondering how we will actually benefit, or more importantly, how do we make sure we benefit? The last thing we want is a repeat of years gone by where First Nations received little or no benefit in terms of the business and employment opportunities stemming from resource development.

The first thing First Nation leaders must decide is whether we accept the outside government’s decision-making process on mines and related infrastructure, including whether the project is environmentally sound or has the approval to proceed. If the answer is ‘no,’ we should not engage in any form of participation that could be interpreted as consultation. If we do accept the framework that includes the government’s environmental assessment process and its right to permit, subject to our meaningful consultation or consent, then we are also telling our people that we are ready to negotiate with the developer in good faith to develop the traditional lands on behalf of our people.

For some, this may mean we are parking the sovereignty issue and our understanding of the Treaty. This may not be acceptable for some Treaty people, while others will be unwilling to risk the potential of losing opportunities that could lead to better living conditions. After all, the intent of the Treaty is to take care of our well-being for the benefit of our people.

Whatever we decide as a people, one thing is certain: resource development is not going away. There will be tremendous pressure on the community if a project has a valid business case, where governments, including First Nations, stand to make millions or billions of dollars over the long term. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th September 2014

If We Build It, They Will Stay [Ring of Fire and North] – by John Van Nostrand (Walrus Magazine – September 2014)

http://thewalrus.ca/

Instead of extracting resources and leaving, we could populate the mid-Canada corridor—and create a bigger, better country

FORTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO, perhaps in the outsized spirit of Expo 67, the retired major general and author Richard Rohmer put forward a bold proposal in Mid-Canada Development Corridor: A Concept. It described a vast landmass stretching from Newfoundland and Labrador across Quebec, Ontario, and the Prairies, to British Columbia and up through Northwest Territories and Yukon, occupying the area between southern settlements and the treeline—a band dominated by boreal forest. His idea was to implement a national strategy to develop and populate it.

Rohmer reasoned that Canada was poised to be a world leader in resource extraction, and that our future was tied to that endeavour. Mid-Canada was rich in minerals, oil, and gas, largely untouched, and had a habitable climate. The key to the plan was new infrastructure, which both the government and private sector would finance.

At the time, there were a few north–south arteries in place, and more were needed; east–west links needed improvement. Some existing settlements could be expanded to serve as urban hubs. The middle of the country could be settled in much the same way the West had been settled three generations earlier, when Canada saw its future in agriculture. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th September 2014

First Nations water problems ‘shameful’ – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – September 09, 2014)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay

Thunder Bay chapter of Council of Canadians works toward solutions to long-standing water issues

Canadians should be shocked by the lack of clean drinking water in many First Nations, according to the Thunder Bay chapter of the Council of Canadians.

A CBC investigation recently revealed ten First Nations in northern Ontario have been without clean drinking water for more than a decade.

“We just find this such a shameful situation,” said Janice Horgos, chair of the Council of Canadians Blue Planet committee. “It’s shocking in a country rich with water like Canada.”

Horgos said her committee is “honoured” to have several First Nations members to help “further our understanding of the complex issue.”

“We need to understand what’s happening if we’re going to become a better ally,” she said. Horgos said each First Nation faces different challenges when it comes to providing safe drinking water, but all are confronted with the same problem without it. “How can people even think about economic prosperity if they don’t have safe, clean drinking water?”

The Council of Canadians is also expressing concern about federal legislation, The government calls the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act “a vital step towards ensuring First Nations have the same health and safety protections for drinking water as other Canadians.” Read the rest of this entry »

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9th September 2014

Commentary: Ring of Fire sale! – by Bill Galagher (Northern Miner – September 8, 2014)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry. 

For anybody wondering what’s going to happen now to Cliffs Natural Resources’ chromite discovery in Ontario’s Ring of Fire region, all they have to do is read Casablanca Capital’s dissident letter to shareholders in the run-up to Cliffs’ July 29 annual general meeting.

Casablanca’s takeover strategy was to run an alternative slate of six directors on the “hedgefund platform” that Cliffs, under new management, would wield the broom over its multi-billion dollar expansion frenzy that it had just pulled off in iron and chromite.

Here is the excerpt imploring Cliffs shareholders to vote the Casablanca slate in, as the incumbent directors had to go: “The Directors are focused on their own interests at the expense of shareholders, cannot be entrusted to lead Cliffs and do not deserve a single vote after having destroyed $9 billion of value.”

Shareholders overwhelmingly agreed at the AGM and thus the slicing-and-dicing commenced. Here’s a key excerpt from analysts (Market Realist) that spelled the end of Cliffs/Casablanca’s infatuation with the Ring of Fire:

“In our view, spinning off international assets might not be possible because most of the international assets are losing money. So ‘fire sale’ might be one option, but even for that it might be difficult to find a buyer at this stage of the market environment… Read the rest of this entry »

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8th September 2014

Ring of Fire chief says Ontario breaching consultation agreement – by Kenneth Jackson (APTN National News – September 8, 2014)

 http://aptn.ca/

Just a few months after announcing a framework to negotiate with northern Ontario First Nations to develop the Ring of Fire a “number” of chiefs are concerned the provincial government is failing to honour the deal by simultaneously working towards issuing exploration permits to mining companies, APTN National News has learned.

At least one of the nine Matawa First Nations involved in the talks has written the province asking them to stop the pending permits while talks are underway and without consulting them first.

“We strongly oppose the approach that your government has taken on this matter and would strongly advise that we sit down immediately…,” wrote Chief Peter Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation in this letter dated Sept. 5. “Failure to do so would be an unjustified infringement upon our Aboriginal, treaty and custodial rights.”

According to the letter [http://bit.ly/1wei1t7], the issuance of two exploration permits on Neskantaga land are pending that would allow mining companies to determine if the land is worth of an operational mine.

But Bob Rae, the negotiator for the Matawa First Nations, said Neskantaga isn’t the only First Nation with concerns. “A number of Matawa chiefs have already been in touch with the government directly,” said Rae in an interview with APTN. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th September 2014

PoV: Development corp. notice a yawn – by Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – September 7, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

It’s no wonder the response to the Ontario government’s announcement that it has formed a development corporation to get moving on the Ring of Fire ranged from muted to headshaking. It was a case of watching a long, slow train running down a flat straight track; sooner or later it would get here, but what now?

The corporation, which the Kathleen Wynne government promised to set up within 60 days of being re-elected, has only an interim board of four senior public servants. No one from the federal government, no one from First Nations, no one from the mining industry.

The interim board, said Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle, will help bring about a full corporation, which will then negotiate agreements, assist with exploration and most importantly, make key infrastructure decisions.

But back in May 2012, the Liberal government and Cliffs Natural Resources -then the lead player in the Ring -announced that at a smelter to process material from the deposit would be built near Capreol, promising about 500 jobs, and that a north-south all-weather road would be constructed to help move the material.

Cliffs -which was going to begin production by 2015 -has since faded from the picture, stopping its operations in the Ring, so the province’s decision to throw all its eggs in that company’s basket backfired. (There are about 100 companies operating in the area, though only about one third of them are active and a few are in a position to move on development.) Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, Northern Ontario/Canada Regional Media, Ontario's Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery, Stan Sudol Columns/Media References and Appearances | 0 Comments

8th September 2014

Ontario’s Ring Of Fire Gets A Development Corporation As First Nation Objects – by Sunny Freeman (Huffington Post – September 5, 2014)

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/staking-claim/

The First Nation band closest to the Ring of Fire says the Ontario government is failing to live up to promises it made to the community and has neglected to include First Nations in initial plans.

Webequie, a tiny isolated community, is taking issue with Ontario’s decision to create an economic development corporation and nominate board members — all four from government– without consulting other partners.

The Ring of Fire, a giant mineral deposit 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, became a hot topic during the Ontario election campaign this spring with opposition parties pointing fingers at the leading Liberal party for dragging its heels. Within weeks of their re-election the Liberals announced they would create an economic development corporation within 60 days.

Scrambling to fulfil that promise, the Grits announced the corporation’s creation Aug. 28. They also announced the first four board members would be government-appointed representatives, with those from First Nations and the mining industry to join later.

“The Province’s decision to unilaterally move ahead with the economic development corporation for the Ring of Fire is disappointing,” Chief Cornelius Wabasse said in a press release. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th September 2014

VIEW FROM QUEEN’S PARK: Ring of Fire – by Chris Ballard, MPP Newmarket-Aurora (The Auroran – September 5, 2014)

http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/

One of the most exciting economic development opportunities we have in Ontario is the mineral rich Ring of Fire, located about 1,000 kilometers north-west of Newmarket-Aurora, in northern Ontario.

Experts put the mineral potential of the area at upwards of $60 billion. It includes the largest known deposit of chromite in North America. Chromite is a key ingredient in stainless steel. The area also holds the potential for significant production of nickel, copper and platinum.

A study by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce reports Ontario’s Ring of Fire has the potential to generate up to $9.4 billion in Gross Domestic Product; generate up to $6.2 billion for Ontario’s mining industry; sustain up to 5,500 full-time jobs annually; and generate nearly $2 billion in government revenue for federal, provincial and municipal coffers. And that’s just in the first 10 years.

In the first 32 years of its development, the Ring of Fire will “generate more than $25 billion in economic activity across numerous sectors in Ontario, of which mining is just one,” the Chamber report says.

Other beneficiaries of the development of the Ring of Fire include $2.7 billion in revenues for the financial services sector; $1.2 billion for the wholesale and retail trade sectors; $600 million for the manufacturing sector; and $500 million for the utilities sector, the report concludes.

The Chamber says the Ring of Fire will also generate an estimated $6.7 billion in government tax revenues over the first 32 years of its development, “providing compelling incentive for governments to invest in this economic opportunity.” Read the rest of this entry »

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5th September 2014

Call out for James Bay sea port – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 5, 2014)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – A council representing eight Northern First Nations is proposing a sea port be established on the James Bay Coast to facilitate development within the Ring of Fire.

“Our plan is to establish a transportation corridor from the Ring of Fire to the James Bay area with a sea port because we know that the products that are going to come out of there are going to be shipped worldwide,” Vern Cheechoo, director of lands and resources of Mushkegowuk Council, told The Daily Press Thursday. “We feel we are best situated in the James Bay region for something like that to take place.”

Past studies have shown that James Bay could be considered a prospect for a seasonal sea port.If rail option were to be developed from the eastern corridor of the Ring of Fire to a seasonal sea port, Cheechoo said this could bring investment and positive economic benefits to many resource-related projects in Northern Ontario.

Mushkegowuk Council has announced it is developing a business plan in support of a rail, sea port, fibre optic and energy transportation corridor in the Ring of Fire through an Aboriginal-led alliance.

Cheechoo explained the goal from the Mushkegowuk communities’ standpoint is two-fold. One is that they would like to get the ball rolling and enable mining development to occur in that region. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th September 2014

Ring of Fire Chiefs may demand basic services before mineral development – by Bryan Phelan (Onotassiniik Magazine – Fall 2014)

http://onotassiniik.com/

The same day in June that David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO for Matawa First Nations Management (MFNM), spoke at the Ontario Mining Forum, CBC News reported on a drinking water emergency in Marten Falls First Nation.

Marten Falls, one of nine First Nations that receive advisory and support services from the MFNM tribal council, had been without potable water since a boil-water advisory was issued in 2005, CBC reported June 18. The situation became worse this April when a water filter broke at the community’s water treatment plant, making the water unsafe even for bathing. Chief Eli Moonias said subsequent requests for emergency federal and provincial funding to fix the water treatment plant had to that point been ignored.

Achneepineskum, formerly a band manager and councillor in Marten Falls, referenced this issue and its broader implications while speaking in Thunder Bay as part of a Mining Forum panel on building consensus for mining development in the Ring of Fire.

“If you go to our communities, any one of them, they talk about the social and health issues, they talk about housing, they talk about bad water … particularly water,” he said. “We want proper water treatment, schools, health programs. And in some cases, our chiefs may push that this will be a prerequisite before any development happens, not after the fact.”

In March, the nine members of the Matawa Chiefs Council signed a framework agreement with Ontario that will guide regional negotiations for development in the Ring of Fire, in the traditional territories of several Matawa communities. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th September 2014

Start small with Ring of Fire infrastructure: Noront CEO (Northern Miner – September 3, 2014)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

There’s no question massive infrastructure will need to be built in order to mine the large chromite deposits in the Ring of Fire, says Noront Resources (TSXV: NOT) president and CEO Alan Coutts.

However, Coutts sees the big infrastructure needs — such as Mushkegowuk Tribal Council’s recent announcement regarding a First Nations-led plan to develop rail, power and a sea port in James Bay — as a project for the long term.

“The needs that Mushkegowuk are talking about are the long-term infrastructure needs if there is to be large-scale chromite mining in the Ring of Fire,” Coutts said. “In my opinion, that’s at least a decade off — there’s nobody advancing a large-scale chromite project now and certainly the ability to permit such a project with big waste rock piles, big tailings storage areas, and large water treatment needs because of the water coming into pits — it’s a long way off.”

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF) suspended work on its Black Thor open-pit chromite project in the Ring of Fire late last year, leaving junior Noront as the nearest-term potential producer in the remote region of Ontario. Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd September 2014

Webequie chief says Ontario moving ‘unilaterally’ ahead on Ring of Fire development – by Lenny Carpenter (Wawatay News – September 3, 2014)

http://www.wawataynews.ca/

The chief of Webequie First Nation said the Ontario government is failing to live up to its commitment with his community after the province announced the establishment of an infrastructure development corporation on Aug. 28.

Instead of working with the Matawa First Nation in the Ring of Fire to develop the corporation, Chief Cornelius Wabasse said the Ontario government “unilaterally move(d) ahead,” a decision he called “disappointing.”

The province first announced its intention to establish an infrastructure development corporation in early July, which would decide how to invest Ontario’s $1-billion dollar commitment to Ring of Fire infrastructure. The corporation would “work to bring First Nations and the public and private sectors together to create partnerships and facilitate investment decisions in strategic transportation infrastructure.”

In the Aug. 28 announcement, Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said the not-for-profit corporation has an interim board of directors composed of four Ontario public servants. The announcement said that the corporation would evolve and its board of directors would broaden to include First Nations membership.

However, Wabasse said this was decision was made without First Nations input. “What we’re saying we’re supposed to be working side-by-side to develop that. A path of process needs to happen so we can select who is going to be on that board,” Wabasse told Wawatay News. “Now they’re at the stage where they put in a board of directors from their side, the Ontario side. But there is no First Nation content. That’s the problem with that (development corporation).” Read the rest of this entry »

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

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