Noront Resources Releases NI 43-101 Compliant Feasibility Study

Welcome to A Northern Blog. Today’s entry is the 4th in series dealing with mining issues. This article will examine a Canadian company – Noront Resources and its  role in exploring and mining development  in the Ring of Fire area of Northwest, Ontario.  The Ring of Fire has been described as having  the largest mining potential in Ontario, larger than what has gone on in the past.

The article on Noront appears courtesy of Glen Dredhart, the publisher of Mining Life Magazine, where the portion dealing with Noront’s work on the Ring of Fire initially appeared. For information on mining in Northern Ontario visit Glenn’s Canadian Mining Portal  at

Glenn is also preparing to publish the first Mining Life magazine issue of 2013 featuring reports on prospecting in Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

Noront Resources Releases NI 43-101 Compliant Feasibility Study in 2012

By Frank Giorno

Noront Resources Ltd. released results, on September 4, 2012, of an updated National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) compliant Feasibility Study (“FS”) for a stand alone nickel, copper, platinum group element (“Ni-Cu-PGE”) mine and mill complex at its 100% owned Eagle’s Nest deposit near  McFaulds Lake, the Ring of Fire.

“The feasibility study confirms Eagle’s Nest is economically viable and establishes the capital, operating and potential profits to a reasonable level of certainty, which will allow Noront to initiate discussions with various financial institutions to fund the proposed mining project ,” said Olya Yousefi, the Manager of Corporate Communications for Noront in a telephone interview with Mining Life.

 The Ring of Fire is located about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and about 70 km east of the Webequie First Nation. It is about 150 km west of the DeBeers Victor Diamond Mine. The area consists of muskeg swamps and has the potential to become a major mining site for chromite, nickel, copper, gold, and other minerals.

 Noront plans to develop a stand alone nickel, copper, platinum and palladium mine and mill complex at its Eagle’s Nest location near McFauld Lake. The mine, mill and tailing storage facility will all be situated underground.

Noront’s feasibility study assumes that 1.0 million tonnes per year of nickel and copper ore will be extracted from the underground mine using blast hole sub-level stoping. On site processing  will produce approximately 150,000 tonnes of high-grade nickel-copper concentrate per year which will be trucked to a rail siding located approximately 300 kilometres to the south.

Core samples taken from Noront's property in the Ring of Fire --photo courtesy of Noront Resources

Core samples taken from Noront’s property in the Ring of Fire –photo courtesy of Noront Resources

The feasibility study’s discounted cash flow (“DCF”) model indicates that Noront’s Eagle’s Nest project will produce an after tax Net Present Value (at an 8% discount rate, “NPV(8%)” of $543 million, based on the Assumed Metal Prices).

Other financial benefits include:

  • an after tax IRR exceeding 28%;
  • an estimated initial capital investment of $609 million;
  • an estimated life of mine sustaining capital cost of $160 million;
  • estimated operating costs (including road access fees) of $97 per tonne or $2.34 per pound of nickel equivalent to minus $0.31 per pound of nickel net by-product credits;
  • an estimated mine life of 11 years; and
  • a capital payback period of under 3 years based on a 100% equity project.


“In terms of benefits to the province, the current reserve identified at Eagle’s Nest would generate approximately  $420 million in tax revenues,” Yousefi said. “This figure does not include any future reserve increases resulting future exploration efforts in the camp.”


Along with its feasibility study, Noront has also submitted its terms of reference for their comprehensive environmental assessment to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The terms of reference will serve as the basis for completing the environmental assessment


“The major challenge for Noront in developing the Eagle’s Nest site is the lack of existing infrastructure in the region ,” Yousefi said.


One of the most crucial elements of the infrastructure is the construction of a road that will open up the area and allow materials to be trucked in to develop the site and ores and concentrates shipped out.

Noront’s feasibility study assumed that ore concentrate would be trucked along a north-south, all season road to a CNR loading facility near Nakina where it will be transferred to rail for further shipment.

The proposed north-south route has been proposed by Cliffs, a multi-national, diversified producer seeking to develop their chromite assets in the Ring of Fire.

In its pre-feasibility study, Noront assumed an east-west road would be the primary means of access to the Ring of Fire. At this time, Noront continues to identify this east-west route as an alternative to the north-south corridor, as require of the environmental assessment process.

All season North-South Road


Noront revealed that the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) in a letter dated August 10, 2012 said they were in early stages of discussion with Cliffs Natural Resources regarding a north – south all-season road that would connect the Ring of Fire to existing provincial transportation routes and railway lines.  The letter confirmed the Province’s intent to contribute financially to develop the proposed all-season road subject to various environmental, regulatory and financial approvals.

In the letter, MNDM advised Noront that “the current expectation is that the all-season road would be made available for use by industrial users other than Cliffs, with access fees generally based on proportional road usage, although specific terms are still to be determined.”

Details on the estimated capital costs of the proposed north-south road have not been provided to Noront. However, Cliffs Natural Resources has publicly stated that the cost of their proposed integrated transportation system is budgeted at $600 million. This cost is consistent with previous work completed by Noront on this alternative and was used as the basis to establish road usage costs in their feasibility study.


 “The decision of the Province of Ontario to financially support the north-south road corridor pending environmental approval, is a very positive development in unlocking the mineral wealth of the Ring of Fire, “said Wes Hanson,President and CEO of Noront states.

“Our discussions with the Province have confirmed that the all season

road will be accessible to all industrial users including Cliffs and that the costs to use the road will be based on proportional usage, a critical consideration for Noront as our concentrate shipments represent less than seven percent of the currently identified ore haulage along the corridor, “ Hanson added.

Refining Noront’s Ore Concentrates

Diagram of Noront's proposed milling operation planned for the Ring of Fire-photo courtesy of Noront

Diagram of Noront’s proposed milling operationplanned for the Ring of Fire-photo courtesy of Noront

Another component of Noront’s proposal that needs to be determined is where it plans to refine the nickel ore concentrated produced by the on site milling operations.

“The logical destination would be Sudbury where both Xstrata and Vale INCO are operating nickel smelters and where there is currently excess capacity.” Yousefi said. “Our initial testing indicates that this would be a marketable concentrate for most of the world’s existing nickel smelters.”

First Nations Relationships

“Noront has worked hard to establish solid relationships with local First Nations communities near the Ring of Fire discoveries.” Yousefi said. “We want to ensure that the communities of north-western Ontario realize the benefits of mineral development through long-term jobs and business opportunities.”

“We are very active in community consultation to  ensure the communities fully understand what we propose to do, when we propose to do it and how will it impact their communities now and in the future. We have also focused a great deal of effort on the  young people in the communities where we have been active.. Each summer, we hold  mining camps aimed at introducing the young people to the exploration and mineral development industry. We hope to highlight to the young people the importance of staying in school, what jobs will be available in their region in the future and what each job entails in terms of training and education. Noront hopes that future geologists, engineers, managers and other specialists originate from the various communities surrounding the Ring of Fire,” she added

First Nations student examining mineral samples- photo courtesy of Noront Resources

First Nations student examining mineral samples photo courtesy of Noront Resources

Exploration Potential


On July 9, 2012; Noront released the results of its winter drilling program which included some positive results. Noront reported that all six holes that were drilled intersected low-grade nickel sulphide mineralization, suggesting that the ground based geophysical surveys are a valuable exploration tool going forward. This system has dramatically increased the Company’s success rate in testing multiple targets within the Ring of Fire claims for nickel sulphide mineralization. The fact that all holes from the late winter program intersected nickel sulphide mineralization is a significant improvement from past drill programs.

The Ring of Fire was only discovered in 2007. By comparison, the Sudbury camp, one of the worlds most prolific sources of nickel, has seen the benefits of nickel mining and processing for over a hundred years. The potential for further resource growth is significant and the Ring of Fire may someday rival Sudbury as Canada’s most prolific nickel camp.

Other Nor0nt News

Windfall Lakes Project

Recently Noront announced agreement to sell it’s 25 percent interest in the Windfall Lake Project in Quebec to Maudore Minerals Ltd.  The Windfall Lake Project is a joint venture between Noront and Eagle Hill Exploration Corporation (“Eagle Hill”). Eagle Hill has earned a 75% interest in the project and is the operator. Maudore has agreed to pay a sum of CAD$10.0 million in cash plus three million warrants which entitle Noront to purchase common shares of Maudore at a price of CAD$2.20 per common share (“the Warrants”) (collectively the “Purchase Price”) in exchange for Noront’s current 25% interest in the Windfall Lake Project.  For more information on Noront’s agreement with Maudore visit

In a news release issued on December 17, 2012 Eagle Hill Corporation announced that Stantec Consulting Ltd. (“Stantec”) had been awarded a contract to produce a pre-feasibility study (“PFS”) on the Windfall Lake

Eagle Hill’s interest in Windfall Lake is governed by the terms and conditions of an option agreement between Noront and Eagle Hill that was entered into on July 21, 2009 (“the “Option Agreement”).

In the December 17th Press Release, Eagle Hill states: “Under the terms of the Option Agreement to acquire the Windfall Lake Property, Eagle Hill must give notice of the Company’s commitment to cause the commencement of commercial production on the Property within one year of earning a 75% interest in the Windfall Lake Property (the “Notice”). Eagle Hill earned its 75% interest in the Property on April 20, 2012. In this regard, Eagle Hill has engaged Stantec to provide a mineral reserve estimate based on the results of the PFS. The results of the PFS will be available on or before April 20, 2013. Upon receipt of the reserve estimate, Eagle Hill will be in a position to deliver the Notice to the  options pursuant to the Option Agreement.” Eagle Hill’s press release also states “Once the obligations are satisfied, the buy-back provisions contained in the Option Agreement will be eliminated.”

For more information please go to

Noront Retains New York-based RB Milestone Group

Noront Resources Ltd. has retained New York-based financial communications firm RB Milestone Group, LLC (“RBMG”) to strengthen shareholder value through RBMG’s market intelligence, corporate advisory, public relations, and equity research initiatives.

Olya Yousefi, Manager of Corporate Communications of Noront states: “We have a great story to tell and we look forward to working with RBMG to further our reach.”

“We’re excited to be representing Noront Resources,” said Renee Volaric, RBMG’s Director. “RB Milestone Group’s experience in the natural resource sector will allow us to present significant opportunities to Noront, its shareholders and new investors.”

For more information see

HiAlpha Mining Investment Conference

Wes Hanson, President and CEO of Noront Resources was a presenter at last month’s HiAlpha® Mining Investment Conference. Click here ( to watch his interview with Fox Business Network contributor Stu Taylor.

For more information on Noront Resources please visit


Cliffs Natural Resources May Delay Black Thor Start Up, Continues to Work on Environmental Assessment

Welcome to my 3rd A Northern Blog posting. This post will delve into Cliffs Natural Resources efforts to start up a chromium mine on its Black Thor Property.  As this story illustrates it takes a long time to start up a mine. There are oenvironmental assessments to be filed and approved. Ancillary works such as roads and electrical infrastructure need to be constructed or installed. Consultation with nearby communities need to held and agreements reached. Of all the companies working in the Ring of Fire, Cliffs Natural Resources has progressed the furthest, but still has a long way to go. In May, 2012 Cliffs chose Capreol, Ontario near Sudbury to be the location for its ferrochrome refinery.  This was an important step. Cliffs now will be focusing on getting environmental approvals, securing agreements with First Nations and other nearby communities and working with the provincial government to secure the construction of a road that will link Black Thor operations to Ontario’s highway system.

 I want to thank publisher Glenn Dredhart for the permission to  use the article on Cliffs Natural Resources that was originally published in the December, 2012 issue of Mining Life Magazine. For excellent coverage of mining issues in the North and throughout Canada visit the Canadian Mining Portal. Glenn’s company Canadian Trade Ex hosts the largest mining show in the North.

 Glenn also is in the process of setting up the Canadian Mining Portal which will carry the latest mining information on the internet including e-versions of Mining Life and Exploration News.

Cliffs Natural Resources May Delay Black Thor Start Up, Continues to Work on Environmental Assessment  

By Frank Giorno

Cliffs Natural Resources may defer some preparatory work on the Black Thor site as a result of an earnings call in the last week of October and in light of current iron ore pricing.


Aerial view of Cliffs Natural Resources Black Thor property. Photo courtesy of Cliffs Natural Resources

“One of the levers Cliffs has to deal with market changes is related to our chromite project,  ” said Patricia Persico, Director of Global Communications for Cliffs, in a telephone interview with Mining Life.

“Despite the significant potential this project has for the company’s future, in light of the current iron ore pricing environment, we are reviewing the project’s timeline,” Persico said.

Cliffs is looking to open its chromite mine by the end of 2016, but it has decided to delay early construction work until completion of its feasibility study. This move could potentially delay start up of production into 2017 or even later depending on market conditions and Cliffs’ cash position. In the meantime Cliff will consider taking on a partner for the project. Cliffs still expects to complete the feasibility study and the environmental assessment by 2013.

Cliffs proposes to develop a chromite mine in the Ring near McFaulds Lake. It is currently undertaking a coordinated Environmental Assessment (EA) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.

“There will be multiple opportunities for the public to participate in the environmental assessment process, “said Patricia Perisco.

Cliffs Resources must obtain approval for its environmental assessment from the Ontario and Canadian government before proceeding to develop the chromite mine, related processing and transportation components, and the ferrochrome production facility. In addition, it must also obtain approval permits for the design of water and wastewater treatment facilities, tailings management, site rehabilitation and air emission controls.

The Ring of Fire is located about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and about 70 km east of the Webequie First Nation. It is about 150 km west of the DeBeers Victor Diamond Mine. The area consists of muskeg swamps and has the potential to become a major mining site for chromite, nickel, copper, gold, and other minerals.

Map showing the location of areas considered for mining in the Ring of Fire including Cliffs' Black Thor property. Map courtesy of Ring of Fire Secretariat

Map showing the location of areas considered for mining in the Ring of Fire including Cliffs’ Black Thor property. Map courtesy of Ring of Fire Secretariat

Draft Provincial EA Terms of References Released

In July 2012, Cliffs released its draft terms of references for the provincial environmental assessment for public comment to multiple interested municipalities, First Nation communities, federal and provincial government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The comment period ended in August, 2012 and extensions were granted for some commentators into October. The Terms of Reference document will be updated based on the comments received during the comment period.

The Terms of Reference contains the description of Cliff’s proposal for developing the chromite mine, concentrate process facility, transportation system and the ferrochrome production facility. The operation of these components will be the basis for Cliffs’ Environmental Assessment if approved by the provincial environment ministries.

Addressing the public’s concern about possible negative impacts will be an important aspect of the environmental assessment.

The environmental assessment will help determine the best way to carry out the mining, transportation, processing and refining operations by evaluating potential impacts on the environment by the Project.  It also will contain information about how potential negative impacts will be mitigated or eliminated through Project design or utilization of alternatives.

The federal Environmental Impact Statement guidelines, the coordinated counterpart to the provincial EA Terms of Reference, were finalized in December 2011.

Cliffs Natural Resources’ Proposal

Cliffs proposes to operate an open pit mine that will be used to extract ore at a rate of approximately 6,000 tons to 12,000 tons per day. At that rate of extraction, Cliffs anticipates the open pit will operate for 30 years

Cross section of Black Thor Property showing chromium potential. Photo courtesy of Cliffs Natural Resources

Cross section of Black Thor Property showing chromium potential. Photo courtesy of Cliffs  Natural Resources

According to Persico, “One million tons per year of chromite concentrate will be produced at Cliffs’ concentrate processing facility located at the mine site and direct shipped to international ferrochrome producers.

The proposed Capreol ferrochrome production facility will produce 600,000 tons of ferrochrome per year for export to markets where stainless steel is produced. Persico explained the needs differ for the North American and Asian markets. In North America and Europe, ferrochrome is in demand, while in Asia where there is already ferrochrome processing facilities, it is demanding chromite concentrate.


 North-South All Season Road

A critical element in developing Cliffs’ Black Thor open pit mine and the ore processing facility will be the construction of a north-south road. It will be crucial for transporting supplies, materials and concentrate between existing infrastructure and the mine site.

The north-south road will facilitate the trucking of concentrate in sealed cargo containers from the ore processing plant to an existing rail network 340 km to the south of Black Thor via the combination of a new all-weather road and existing provincial resource roads.

The vehicles will travel 80 km of existing provincial resource roads on the southern end of the route to access the proposed transload facility located near an existing Canadian National Railway siding where the concentrate cargo containers will be transferred to rail cars and shipped to Capreol.

The Aroland First Nation is located west of the proposed transload facility. Over the summer, it was among the First Nations who threatened to issue eviction orders to companies doing exploratory work in the Ring.

Discussions between Cliffs and the Ontario government proceeded and agreement in principle was reached on key elements of the chromite mine development, including construction of an all-weather north-south road that will facilitate transportation to the transload facility.

At this time, Cliffs is engaged in discussions with the province of Ontario regarding a north-south All-weather Access Road that will connect the Project mine site to existing provincial road and rail infrastructure. It is anticipated that First Nations and other natural resource companies will be provided access to the All-weather Access Road. Cliffs expects that access to the All-weather Access Road will generally be managed in a manner similar to other provincial resource roads, although the exact terms of such access still need to be discussed between Cliffs, area First Nations and the Province. At present, Cliffs anticipates that it will design, construct, own, operate, and maintain the road. It is envisioned that the discussions with the province of Ontario will be completed in the near future.

Capreol Ferrochrome Facility

In May 2012, Cliffs announced, Capreol’s Old Moose Mountain as the location of its Ferrochrome Production Facility (FPF). In explaining its decision to choose the Sudbury location over other Ontario, Quebec and international locations, Cliffs said that the Sudbury area had greater potential due to various economic and technical factors, proximity to electricity supply, better transportation, and labour markets.

Cliffs produced a supplementary EA Terms of Reference for the environmental assessment on the FPF and released for public review. According to the Terms of Reference document, the FPF will use an enclosed electric arc furnaces to process approximately 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of concentrate to produce about 1,250 and 1,750 tonnes of ferrochrome.

Cost of Developing and Operating the Mine

According to Persico, Cliffs estimates it will invest approximately $3 billion to develop the chromite mine and onsite processing facility, the transportation component and the Capreol FPF.

The mine is estimated to  cost $150 million and the near-mine processing facility $800 million. The ferrochrome facility in Capreol is slated to cost $1.8 billion and the transportation components $600 million.

Anticipated Benefits

Persico says the benefits to Northern Ontario include the creation of 1,200 jobs to construct the mine, processing plant and the ferrochrome facility. Another 1,200 jobs will be created once the mine, plant and facilities are operational.

The jobs would benefit Northern Ontario, including members of the First Nation communities. Additional benefits will arise through business opportunities for suppliers who will have the opportunity to bid on contracts both during the start up period and when the mine becomes operational.

Persico said that Cliffs is committed to ensuring the communities in the Ring of Fire, along the transportation route and near the ferrochrome facility benefit from its activities.

“Cliffs Natural Resources has a 160 year history in Michigan and Minnesota of successfully investing in the communities where it locates,” Persico said. “We are a sustainable company that invests generously in our communities.”

Working in Cooperation with First Nations

Before Cliffs chromite mine can be developed, it must receive approval for its environmental assessment, negotiate agreements with First Nation communities whose lands will be affected and reach a final agreement with the Ontario government on the provision of infrastructure that will make the mining project feasible.

Persico said Cliffs is working towards agreements with First Nations near the Project components.  There are multiple First Nation communities in the area and along the transportation route.

“Cliffs Resources is respectful of their heritage, lands, and traditional knowledge,” Persico said, “Negotiations are further along in some communities and others are evolving.”

Work on Ring of Fire Percolates in 2012


 A Northern Blog 2nd Entry January 5, 2013

Welcome to A Northern Blog my second entry. In the next several entries I will write about the most significant mining issues facing Northern Ontario, indeed, all of Canada in the first dozen years of the 21st century. How this story unfolds will tell us much about our values, who we are as a people, how we deal with the need to produce wealth, create jobs, protect the interests of our First People’s and operate future mines and rehabilitate the environment once the mining comes to a close.

Today’s blog will set the background and give an overview of what transpired in 2012. Subsequent blogs will examine the progress made by the key mining and mining exploration companies in advancing their plans to open their mines in the Ring of Fire. I will examine the activities of Cliffs Natural Resource, Noront Resources, KWG Mines, Bold Ventures Inc. and MacDonald’s Mining



The articles on developments in the Ring of Fire appears courtesy of Mining Life Magazine. I want to thank publisher Glenn Dredhart for the permission use the article original published in the December, 2012 issue of Mining Life Magazine. For excellent coverage of mining issues in the North and throughout Canada visit the Canadian Mining Portal. Glenn’s company Canadian Trade Ex hosts the largest mining show in the North

Glenn also is in the process of setting up the Canadian Mining Portal which will carry the latest mining information on the internet including e-versions of Mining Life and Exploration News.

Please share your reactions and comments to the articles that appear on A Northern Blog. I value your reaction and feedback

Work on Ring of Fire Percolates in 2012

By Frank Giorno


Preparatory work leading to the development of the vast mineral resources in an area in Northwestern Ontario known as the Ring of Fire continued to percolate in 2012.


The Ring of Fire is the name given to an area of rich mineral deposits located in the muskeg swamps in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario approximately 500 km. northeast of Thunder Bay and 70 km. east of the Webequie First Nation. The area contains large deposits of chromite, nickel, copper, gold and other valuable minerals. The area is isolated and can only be accessed by air.


 Photo1 – Map companies in the Ring of Free courtesy of Ring of Fire Secretariat, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines

Most of the work being done by the 23 companies with claims in the Ring of Fire mining camp is in the exploration stage, with over $278 million being spent to confirm and further detail the mineral content available for extraction.

 Two companies, Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (Black Thor Property) and Noront Resources Ltd., (Eagle’s Nest Property) are completing their respective joint federal and provincial environmental assessment studies. Before they can begin mining operations, they must obtain government approval of their environmental assessments. 


  In 2012, Cliffs and Noront both completed their feasibility studies and terms of reference, the first steps towards completing their environmental assessment studies.  To complete their environmental assessment reports, Cliffs and Noront must engage the active participation of the First Nation communities in the area of the proposed mining operation, communities along the proposed transportation corridor which includes an all-weather, north-south road which links to a rail line where trucked ore concentrates would be placed on rail cars for hauling to the proposed chromite refinery that Cliffs wants to build near Sudbury.


A third company, KWG Resources Inc., is undertaking a geotechnical assessment for a potential rail line from the proposed mining sites to refineries and markets.  It also reported on the results of bore hole samples taken on its Big Daddy property.


 Two other companies, Bold Ventures and MacDonald Mines, announced the results of their drilling programs which both showed promising results for future mining developments.


In September, a new player arrived on the Ring of Fire Stage — CBC radio reported that a China’s Consul General visited Webequie First Nation and that Sinocan, a Chinese owned company was expected to start drilling near Webequie in October, 2012.  However, a spokesperson said the Ring Secretariat had “no knowledge” of the Chinese visit.


Ontario Government Strongly Supports Mining Development in the Ring of Fire


The Ontario government under Premier Dalton McGuinty is strongly supportive of efforts to develop the Ring and has been active in helping to iron out infrastructure concerns such as the building of an all-weather road from the mining sites that will then connect to a provincial resource road. 


The McGuinty government stated in the 2010 and 2011 Throne Speeches that it is fully committed to working with northerners, Aboriginal communities and mining partners to fully realize the Ring’s potential. The McGuinty government wants all companies in the Ring to actively engage and involve First Nation communities whose traditional lands are in the Ring or nearby.


Ring of Fire Secretariat


To help coordinate the activities of the mining companies and address the concerns of the First Nations, McGuinty created the Ring of Fire Secretariat. The Secretariat works with all levels of government, industry and Aboriginal peoples to encourage responsible and sustainable economic development in the region.


Photo 2 – Map First Nations near the Ring of Fire- Courtesy of Ring of Fire Secretariat, Ministry of Northern Development and Mining


Dr. Christine Kaszyicki was appointed as the Assistant Deputy Minister for Ring coordination in 2010. In this role, Dr. Kaszyicki works to ensure a collective effort is undertaken to advance economic development in this promising area.


Memorandum of Understanding with Marten Falls First Nation


In September, the province signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Marten Falls First Nation pledging to work together to address employment, economic development and environmental impacts. The MOU is in keeping with the McGuinty Government’s commitment to strengthening First Nations ‘communities while supporting a thriving mining sector. This approach is part of the McGuinty Government’s plan to create jobs for Ontarians, create opportunities for First Nations’ communities and strengthen the Ontario economy.


 First Nations Concerned About Lack of Involvement and Lack of Benefits


 Meanwhile, some First Nations in the area are concerned about the lack of benefits and environmental and social impacts from mining on their communities. They continue to press their demands about the need to be consulted prior to development of any mines.  Over the summer of 2012, Six First Nations in the Matawa First Nations council threatened to issue eviction notices to 20 mining companies currently conducting explorations in the Ring, or, as in the case of Cliffs and Noront, preparing their EA. 


The six are, Aroland, Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Constance Lake, Ginoogaming and Long Lake #58. The Assembly of First Nations supported the call to issue the eviction orders and so did the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.


However, Marten falls Chief Eli Moonias did not support the call for evictions, saying his community had been adequately consulted.


Judicial Review


A decision is still pending on the judicial review request filed by the Matawa First Nation Council (MFNC). It filed the judicial review on Nov. 7, 2011, calling on the federal government to implement a Joint Review Panel – the most comprehensive form of environmental assessment (EA) – for the Ring.  MFNC claims that an EA limits the opportunity for First Nation involvement in the process.  It is calling for a Joint Review hearing that would allow for greater participation for Matawa First Nations.                                                          



Historic Hollinger Mine Project Gets Ready To Re-Open in Timmins as an Open Pit Gold Mine Early in 2013

 Image By Frank Giorno

 Welcome to the first Northern Blog. My mission is to write about Northern Ontario issues. My mission is to present clearly written, well researched articles that present factual information about key Northern Issues.  That means that many of my articles will deal with extractive industries such as mining or forestry and pulp and paper. Transportation and energy issues are also major factors in living in the North as are the conditions of our First Nations communities and their relationship to Northern Development and their traditional cultural values.

 From time to time I will cover Northern cultural, literature, music, social, sports and technology.   I encourage you as my reader to engage in conversation and provide me with feedback on what I have written.

 The first article concerns a controversial proposal by Porcupine Gold Mines, a subsidiary of Goldcorp to re-open gold mining operation at the historic Hollinger site which has been closed to mining since the late 1980s. The PGM’s proposal covers both the short term development of an open pit gold mine and a long term closure plan for the site. The benefits of re-opening the Hollinger Site to mining include job creation and secondary spinoffs to local mining servicing industry, plus the creation of recreational lands after closure.

 Large signpost notifying residents and businesses of scheduled blasting times have already been placed by PGM at strategic locations around the mining site.  A firm start date for blasting and mining operations has not been established by PGM, but it is expected to be very soon.

 PGM’s proposal received unanimous support from Timmins Council and is backed by the majority of Timmins residents. There is however concern expressed by residents who live or have business on the periphery of the Hollinger site. The concerns are mostly over noise, vibration and dust issues and ground subsidence which could if it occur lead to major structural damage to nearby homes, one multi-story apartment building and nearby stores.PGM has committed itself  to ensuring that impacts will be mitigated by the creation of an environmental berm and mining practices that will consider the residents’ concerns.

The operation of a mining operation so close to an urban setting is not new. A couple of years ago Osisko Mines physically moved about 250 residents from Malartic, Quebec to mine gold that lay in the ground below the houses. A new open pit was built on land that not been mined before. In Timmins the Hollinger Mine has been in the area  since 1909 and the housing grew around the site over the last 100 years with an apartment building, shopping centres, the Shania Twain Centre, an Extendicare facility and trailer park built after the apparent closure of the mine in the 1980s.

 However in mining centres do mines ever close? Given the high level of exploratory activities around old mining sites in the North and other parts of Canada the answer would be no.

 The article on the re-opening of the Hollinger Site to mining appears courtesy of Mining Life Magazine. I want to thank publisher Glenn Dredhart for the permission use the article original published in the December, 2012 issue of Mining Life Magazine. For excellent coverage of mining issues in the North and throughout Canada visit the Canadian Mining Portal. Glenn’s company Canadian Trade Ex hosts the largest mining show in the North

 Glenn also is in the process of setting up the Canadian Mining Portal which will carry the latest mining information on the internet including e-versions of Mining Life and Exploration News.

 Hollinger Mine Project Gets Unanimous Approval to Proceed from

 Timmins Council.

 By Frank Giorno


Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM), a subsidiary of Goldcorp Corporation, received unanimous support from Timmins City Council in November for re-opening mining operations at the  Hollinger Mine site just east of downtown Timmins, ultimately rehabilitating the site and returning it to public use after it closes.


Council’s vote accepted the Site Plan Control Agreement with PGM as the outline governing how  the Hollinger Open Pit mine operates and how it would mitigate the concerns of nearby residents and businesses.


In summarizing the importance accepting of the PGM’s plans Mayor Tom Laughren said:

“I am a big supporter of this project. This council has done its due diligence. We have had

32 engineering reports, 40 plus public meetings, countless emails, third party reviews, legal and insurance opinions, five council meetings and the input of the Hollinger Public Advisory Committee.


“Goldcorp is one of the few companies I want to walk down this process with. I want to walk down and finish this project. It’s something this community will have and be proud of,” Laughren concluded.


Councillor Pat Bamford pointed to critical economic benefits that will be generated for Timmins.

“There is an economic momentum that comes from spending half a billion dollars over eight years and with a multiplier effect of three, four or even 10 times, Timmins will receive up to $5 Billion of economic momentum,” Councillor Bamford said.


 “I can’t help but believe that with the economic momentum from the project that there will be a positive effect on property values in Timmins including those on the periphery of the mine site,” Bamford explained addressing the concern residents had over possible loss of property value.


Council members also were relieved that PGM’s will provide a $10 million letter of credit to protect the city from potential lawsuits. Beyond that PGM will remain liable for claims arising from the mining related issues once the site is closed.


Councillor Noella Rinaldo who supported PGM’s proposal acknowledged the concerns of some residents, but believed that the Best Management Plan contained in the Site Plan Control Agreement addressed their concerns. Councillor Rinaldo encouraged PGM to improve their communications with the community.


“It is only fitting that we witness this historic mine being transformed into a modern working open pit mine – what a way to show the world that Timmins is a demonstrated leader in the mining field,”  enthused Councillor Andrew Marks.


Now that  PGM has received Timmins council support, the next step before it can open the mine is to obtain certificates of approval from the Ministry of the Environment for air quality and water taking.


Marc Lauzier’s Impassioned Presentation to Council


Proposed Hollinger Open Pit Gold Mine -Courtesy of PGM

A week prior to Council’s vote of  approval of the site control plan agreement, Marc Lauzier, general manager of operations for PGM provided an impassioned presentation to council detailing the ways PGM benefits Timmins and addressing questions and concerns that have been swirling around the proposal since it was officially presented to council.


“Without mining there would be no Timmins, where would Timmins be without mining?” Lauzier said.

 Since 1910, over 19.5 million ounces of gold have been mined at the Hollinger Mine which stopped production in 1968, though some surface mining did take place into the early 1980s. The primary goal of PGM’s proposal is to restore the Hollinger site. The renewed gold mining was the way PGM will pay for the restoration of the site Lauzier said.


Lauzier responded to concerns raised about the impact of the project on property values by saying that prices may drop for a short period, but will in the long term increase because the eyesore of the existing unsafe Hollinger site would be replaced by a safe, reclaimed property that would be turned over to the city for public use.


Lauzier said PGM is opened to all reasonable proposals for the after use of the Hollinger property if the proposed public park is not wanted by Timmins. Some concern had been voiced that the maintenance of the park would put a financial burden on the City.


PGM would not guaranty property values Lauzier emphasized. No other mining company in Timmins has been asked to do so as there are too many variables. Lauzier pointed to the economic benefits of 130 jobs created by the project and the additional jobs created by local companies providing services to PGM.


The ore mined from the Hollinger site was needed to keep the Dome Mill operational Lauzier told council members. “Without the ore from Hollinger open pit the consequences would be drastic,” Lauzier said.


Lauzier also said that other mining companies are watching the outcome of PGM’s request to council.  “Other companies know that PGM has spent $25 million to rehabilitate the Hollinger site with the understanding that Timmins was open for business,” he said. “If our proposal is turned down what message would be sent to other companies involved with mining in Timmins


Timmins Regional Economic Outlook Presentation

 ImageHollinger prior to being mined and remediated- Courtesy of PGM

Paul Miller, Goldcorp’s Manager of Surface Operations earlier explained the benefits of the company’s plans to mine gold from an open pit mine to be built on the Hollinger site in downtown Timmins at the Timmins Regional Economic Outlook Conference October 15, 2012.


The Hollinger property currently consists of a number of old mined pits and sinkholes. Miller described the current state of old Hollinger mine property as over 250 acres that are “unsafe, unusable – a site with environmental problems, that we will return to a usable site”.  Miller said that PGM is committed to reclaiming the Hollinger site and rehabilitating it for the community as they have down over the years on other sites like the McIntyre Property by Highway 655 which today has  been re-vegetated withwalking trails for the public to use.

 Economic Benefits

  PGM plans to operate an open pit gold mine for eight years.  The mine will employ 180 people and create 130 jobs. The extraction of ore and the development of gold concentrate from the Hollinger site will also add 10 additional years to PGM’s overall operations and sustain 250 jobs over that period.


According to Miller, the direct mining cost associated with the property is $565 million excluding the costs of milling over the life of the open pit mine. Capital expenditures are estimated to be $87 million.


Addressing Environmental Concerns

 The Hollinger Mine property is situated in downtown Timmins, east of Brunette Ave., south of Algonquin Blvd. north of Shania Twain Dr.  and west of Hollinger Road in Schumacher. It is adjacent to a public park and commercial sites, the Senator Place Apartments, a nine story apartment building and residential areas including a trailer park.


Miller said that PGM will use the most environmental sound methods for mining the Hollinger site to ensure reduced noise, dust and vibrations. Miller described how PGM will meet these concerns by creating a 20 – 25 metre berm with gradual slopes to control dust and noise during construction and operation of the open pit mine. The berm will be constructed of vegetated earth or engineered walls where space is restricted.


Mining will start at the point farthest from the community and will move north and west, to minimize impact on the community. An estimated 4.4 million tonnes of soil and rock will be removed from the creation of the open pit mine and used to build the berm. The berm itself will take 6.1 million tonnes to construct.

  PGM will also set up noise; dust and vibration monitoring equipment to measure levels and respond quickly to increased levels that may impact on community members. The monitoring equipment will detect when noise, dust and vibration levels exceed acceptable limits.

PGM will use mobile and fixed monitoring stations to help respond quickly to public concerns and complaints about impacts from the Hollinger site. The environmental monitoring will be conducted by a third party to ensure objectivity and confidence in the results. Fixed monitoring stations will be set up onsite and one will be located in Gold Centre, in Schumacher. Real time monitoring results will be available on PGM’s website.


The concerns about increased heavy truck traffic from the mine to PGM’s milling facility at its Dome site has been addressed by the construction of overpasses over Vipond Rd. and Gold Mine Rd. Trucks will make the trip to the milling facility on a dedicated 5 km road between the mine and the Dome Mill and avoid routes used by the public.


As for dewatering of the site, PGM plans to pump water from the Hollinger site to a treatment facility now in place at the McIntyre mine. The treated mine water will be released into Little Pearl Lake.


A particular concern expressed by the owner of the Senator Apartments, located on Algonquin Blvd., north of the Hollinger property has to do with the plans to pump groundwater.

 Bill Hughes the owner of the Senator Place Apartments expressed concerned that vibrations and subsidence will create a hazardous situation that could result in structural damage to apartment building caused by sinking or shifting of ground due to the pumping out of groundwater to keep water out so mining can occur.


Miller said monitoring will be the key to implementing PMG’s environmental protection plan. Monitoring results will trigger an investigation of the source of the problem and determine if there have been any negative impacts. Measures will be taken to mitigate the problem.  


Community Engagement

 “This project is as much about dealing and engaging with the community and mining responsibly in the community as it is about the technical challenges that come with mining,” Miller said


Miller said public consultation that has been ongoing since 2007 when a public advisory committee was established. More recently, a series of presentations about the Hollinger Project, during which the members of the community had an opportunity to express their concerns about the proposal, took place in the summer of 2012. As well, the Hollinger Community Information Centre was reopened in the summer of 2012 and a community liaison officer was appointed to help the public communicate its concerns and to help provide information to the public.


Members of the public can access an interactive website to read about the plans for the Hollinger Property, write their concerns and provide feedback on the project.


Closure and Reclamation

 Once the mining at the Hollinger Property is complete PMG will turn the area into parkland with walking trails. The open pit mine will flood and turn into a lake. Water in the lake is expected to meet provincial standards and be used for recreational purposes.