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. http://mininglifeonline.net/
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.
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.