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“Major step forward,” says Ring of Fire developer

Noront looks to use north-south for chromite shipments
sand ridge
Sand ridge to the Ring of Fire.

The lead Ring of Fire mine developer is pleased with the Ontario government tabling a road plan to reach the deposits in the undeveloped James Bay mineral belt.

“Today’s announcement by Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Chiefs of Webequie, Marten Falls and Nibinamik First Nations is a major step forward that will re-energize development of the Ring of Fire region,” said Noront Resources president-CEO Alan Coutts in an Aug. 21 news release.

“Construction of all-season industrial and community access roads is one of the key things we’ve been working toward with the government and our First Nation partners. I am very pleased to see it moving forward.”

Noront officials were in Thunder Bay to attend the announcement by Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Chiefs of Marten Falls, Webequie and Nibiminik First Nations, and the government’s commitment to providing funding for two industry and community road proposals to reach the Ring of Fire mineral belt.

The province has put forward to two industry and community access road proposals on the table to connect – and satisfy – five of the Matawa tribal council communities who have traditional territory claims to the mineral belt and any road proposals leading into the James Bay region.

A proposed east-west road would connect Webequie and Nibinamik First Nations to the provincial highway network through Pickle Lake and continue into the Ring of Fire.

A planned north-south community access road would start from just north of Aroland with the option of being extended into the Ring of Fire to possibly support the bulk shipment of chromite out of the region.

The environmental assessment of both road projects begins in January, followed by construction in 2019 pending all necessary approvals.

Noront said this timeframe allows them to advance its pre-development work and prepare for the three-year construction of its Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper-PGM mine, the first mine in its development plans.

The company has a stable of nickel, copper, PGM and chromite deposits in the undeveloped mineral belt. Eagle’s Nest would be Noront’s first mine to be developed and would make use of the east-west road.

Its Blackbird chromite deposit, the second mine in line for development, would make use of the north-south road, which would allow for larger volumes of ore to be moved.

Last April, Noront signed an exploration and project advancement agreement with Marten Falls and is currently negotiating a pre-development agreement with the community.

The company said it wants to work with other neighbouring First Nation area communities on similar agreements and road projects for their input into the technical industrial road specifications and development timelines.