The Ontario government said it’s not taking sides in asking to participate in a court appeal launched by Cliffs Natural Resources over access issues to the Ring of Fire.
A statement released through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) said the province seeks to intervene solely on “questions of law and takes no position” between the appellant and respondent.
Cliffs seeks to overturn a September ruling by the Ontario’s Mining and Lands Commissioner that denied the Ohio mining company overland access to its Big Thor chromite deposit in the James Bay lowlands.
Cliffs wants access to a string of mining claims staked by KWG Resources, a Toronto-based junior miner, to run a road north, 320 kilometres, to its deposit.
KWG, through a subsidiary company, has set aside those claims for a future railroad to its Big Daddy chromite deposit.
MNDM said the province’s interests in the appeal are limited to the interpretation of sections 50 and 51 of the Mining Act. Those sections focus on the rights of licensees in staking or filing a mining claim and surface rights on unpatented mining claims.
The counsel for KWG was recently advised that the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General is seeking permission through the Ontario Divisional Court – through a motion for leave -- to intervene in the appeal.
KWG said the motion for leave will be heard on April 28. The hearing of the appeal is scheduled for June 16 and 17.
Cliffs is not allocating any further capital for work on the deposit and has not assigned a project restart date.
The company has also denied media reports that it is permanently pulling out of Ontario despite halting work on its project feasibility study and laying off staff in Ontario.
The commissioner’s ruling played a significant role in Cliffs deciding to indefinitely shelve its Ring of Fire project.
Said the ministry: “Ontario remains committed to continuing focused conversations with key partners, including Cliffs and KWG, through the development corporation and the regional process with the Chiefs of the Matawa Tribal Council, and their communities to ensure smart, sustainable and collaborative development in the Ring of Fire.”