Mining News Clips
Rickford in Thunder Bay
Federal Ring of Fire Lead Minister Greg Rickford, speaking in Thunder Bay last week, talked about “putting aside political partisanship” and aiming for the “politics of collaboration” when it comes to developing the Ring of Fire. He also highlighted his new political advisor on the north, Mark Wright as someone from the North advising him about the north and the Ring of Fire.
Impacting the environment
Greg Rickford thinks delays in the Ring of Fire should be looked at as an opportunity. Cliffs Natural Resources suspended work on its environmental assessment in June saying until issues between First Nations and government are resolved, it’s taken the process as far as it can go.
The main issue is a court injunction filed by Matawa Tribal Council over the federal government’s decision to give the project a comprehensive rather than a joint panel review. A court decision on that is expected in September.
Training workers locally
Ontario minister responsible for northern development, Michael Gravelle, emphasizes decisions around the foreign worker program are made by the federal government.
“One of the realities is that there’s a lack of skilled workers for the mining sector, and there will be for years to come,” said the minister, before referring to programs by the province.
Earlier this year, the Ontario Mining Association estimated they would need more than 145,000 workers to fill gaps over the next 10 years.
“So, it’s all the more important we put the skilled workers in place,” Gravelle said, noting the alliances with colleges and universities. “To have the federal government participate in that is very important as well, because we do want to make sure people are prepared for these developments.”
Twitter highlights - Minister speaks to Chiefs at NAN Conference
Grand Chief Harvey Yesno told Minister Rickford to honour the Residential School Apology (IRS); Minister Gravelle conveyed Premier Wynn’s message that the Ring of Fire is one of Ontario’s priorities; Minister Gravelle said Ontario is committed to developing a mining strategy specific to Nishnawbe Aski Nation;
Build an all weather road
The construction and operation of an all-weather road will certainly improve the economics of most mine projects (and will fatten the provincial royalty wallet when the mines are producing). An all-weather road will also improve the conditions, and reduce the costs of services to the now-isolated First Nation communities. Is it time to think about building an all-weather road, a road system that would start in Greenstone and head north? A road system is often the precursor to the provision of hydropower and broadband. Those with a business mind will see an opportunity where an all-weather road could be constructed using some variation of a public-private partnership. Those people will also see an opportunity to include the First Nations as part of the ownership of the road during construction and as part of the long-term operations of the road…
Cliffs happy with progress
Talks are continuing around the future of the Ring of Fire chromite project. Frank Iacobucci and Bob Rae have been representing the province and First Nations in on-going discussions. Mining company Cliffs Natural Resources said it’s happy with the progress that’s been made, but still can’t say when it may resume its environmental assessment. “I think it’s encouraging to have those kinds of discussions and certainly those kind of people involved in that,” Bill Boor, Cliffs vice president said. “So certainly, it gives me some optimism that we will be able to find a good path forward and get things started like we talked about.”
Bob Rae balancing
Matawa negotiator Bob Rae on balancing the need for meaningful input with the need for moving forward: “….We’d like to get the framework done sooner rather than later. My view is that we have to operate in real time. There are a number of companies that are engaging with the province, and if we’re going to be successful, we need to be taken seriously right away. At the same time, there’s no desire on anybody’s part to simply throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings, but we do want to be heard. And I think that’s the challenge: to create the opportunity to be heard...”
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