Cliffs Natural Resources announced Wednesday, June 12 2013, that it is putting the brakes on environmental assessment work for it’s chromite project in the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario.
The company is citing delays with government environmental assessments, land surface rights issues and negotiations with the province as problems to advancing its work on the mine, which is located in the James Bay lowlands.
Cliffs said it will resume activity when all parties are “collectively ready to make this project a reality.”
“While most aspects of the chromite project have advanced according to plan, temporarily suspending the environmental assessment work acknowledges that certain critical elements of the project’s future are not solely within our control and require the active support and participation by other interested parties such as government agencies and impacted First Nation communities,” said Bill Boor, senior vice president of global ferroalloys for Cliffs, in a press release.
“We remain excited about this project and its potential for Cliffs and northern Ontario. However, given the current unresolved issues, we cannot and will not unilaterally move the process forward and must manage our resources appropriately.”
Cliffs detailed the following “open issues” as “impeding the progress of the project’s environmental assessment process, as well as the feasibility study evaluation”:
- Delayed approval of the Terms of Reference for the provincial Environmental Assessment (EA) process.
- Uncertainty regarding the federal EA process due to the current judicial challenge by a number of the impacted First Nations.
- Unresolved land surface rights issues following a February 2013 Mining and Land Commissioner hearing.
- Unfinished agreements with the Government of Ontario that are critical to the project’s economic viability.
The company said that, before it can advance the project, Cliffs “must receive provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals, negotiate mutually acceptable agreements with impacted First Nation communities, work with governments to address the lack of infrastructure in the Ring of Fire and complete its commercial and technical feasibility studies.”