Ring of Fire Updates Weekly News Roundup

September 15-21, 2019 : Weekly News Roundup

The text "What's the Media Saying? Ring of Fire News Round-Up, September 15-21 2019", overlaid on top of a photo of the Attawapiskat River as a storm approaches.

A major development this week relating to the proposed Ring of Fire mine development was that Hatch and Algoma Steel joined Noront’s Ring of Fire team. Algoma Steel is set to build the smelter facility which is predicted to bring in two to five million dollars revenue for the company. Hatch Ltd will manage and carry out the mine development.

This week the water crisis continued – an ongoing human rights issue. The community of Neskantaga remained evacuated as the water pump was fixed. This connects with Ring of Fire mine development because the longer the Canadian and Ontario governments deprives Northern Indigenous communities of basic rights like clean water, the more leverage they have to strong-arm agreements from communities. This is clear as in political news this week Premier Ford and Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford were both quoted attaching mine development to other “benefits” for northern First Nation communities including health, economic and social elements.

Ford and Rickford state that they are working on bilateral agreements with communities closest to the mine sites and labels this area the Corridor of Prosperity.

September 14, 2019 (CBC News):

Neskantaga First Nation issues state of emergency after evacuation request denied

Request sought after water pumps broke down, according to statement

“The Neskantaga First Nation issued a state of emergency on Saturday after it said a request for emergency evacuations due to broken down water infrastructure was denied by Indigenous Services Canada. The community in northwestern Ontario experienced a break down of its water pump and backup water pump on Thursday which led to contaminated and unfiltered water in the community taps, according to a statement released Saturday by the Neskantaga First Nation. The community’s school has also been closed for the time being. An emergency evacuation request made to Indigenous Services Canada on Saturday morning for 188 residents most directly affected was denied, according to the statement, leading to the state of emergency declaration.” Read more here…

September 15, 2019 (TB News Watch):

Neskantaga chief upset government won’t evacuate vulnerable

Northern community has been under a boil-water advisory for more than 25 years and faces more water issues after a pump failure on Thursday

“The chief of Neskantaga First Nation says he’s appalled that the federal government has refused to evacuate 188 of his community’s most vulnerable people after their water pump and back-up pump failed. Several community members have reported experiencing headaches and fevers and Chief Chris Moonias said telling his people to boil their water for a minute does not minimize the severity of the situation. As a result, a state of emergency has been declared.” Read more here…

September 15, 2019 (Net News Ledger):

Neskantaga First Nation plans to self evacuate over water crisis

Community is preparing to self-evacuate

“A failure of the water pump and back-up pump in Neskantaga have created an emergency. The Neskantaga school is being closed as there is no water going to the school. The Chief says that teachers are being evacuated for their safety. Chief Moonias says, “The water pump that burnt out has nothing to do with the construction of the Water Treatment Plant. ISC is trying to say that this is the same issue as they are trying to justify what they have put in. The burnt-out pump is a whole different issue and it did not burn out as a result of any negligence. This happens because of wear and tear. Currently, there is low water pressure to some homes and some homes don’t have any water at all. The water flowing is untreated and may have some bacteria, therefore, the BOIL WATER ADVISORY has now been elevated to DO NOT USE WATER ADVISORY. The chlorine meter that flows in the water is reading 0.00.” Read more here…

September 16, 2019 (Statement from Ontario NDP):

Ford government must step in to help families in Neskantaga under state of emergency

“Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa, the NDP’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation critic, is calling on the Ford government to take action to help the people of Neskantaga First Nation following the federal government’s refusal to evacuate families facing contaminated water flowing through their taps, after the community’s water pump and back up water pumps broke down. “It is appalling that the federal government would refuse an evacuation of children, babies and elders who are all being exposed to contaminated water flowing through the taps of their homes.” Read more here…

September 16, 2019 (CBC News):

Neskantaga First Nation evacuations continue as community awaits new water pump

Pump broke down on Thursday, leading community to declare a state of emergency

“More than 100 residents of Neskantaga First Nation in northwestern Ontario have been flown out of the community over health concerns brought on by last week’s failure of a water pump. The pump broke down on Thursday, and while it was far from a complete water treatment system — Neskantaga has been under a boil water advisory for 25 years — the pumping system did provide some chlorination for the community’s water, allowing it to be used for personal hygiene, said Chief Chris Moonias. Now, with the pump inoperable, the water supply is completely untreated, Moonias said, adding that some homes can’t get running water at all.” Read more here…

September 17, 2019 (The Globe and Mail):

Chief evacuates nearly entire Neskantaga First Nation due to water crisis

“I just want to go home,” Ms. Moonias said, wiping tears. “We were forced to come out here because of the water. It’s not good for us. Back home, it’s not safe because there’s no water, and even out here it’s not safe because he wanders. Even if we lock the door, he’ll still escape.” Since Sunday, more than 200 people have been evacuated from Neskantaga, situated about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, since and are now spread out in four hotels across the city. Only 20 or so people remained behind.” Read more here…

September 17, 2019 (CBC News):

New contractor working to complete Neskantaga water treatment plant

Chief Chris Moonias says Razar Contracting Services, Ltd., now finishing the plant

“The chief of Neskantaga First Nation says a new contractor has been secured and is completing work on a long-anticipated water treatment plant for the northwestern Ontario community that is designed to end the country’s longest continuous boil water advisory. In February, Neskantaga terminated its contract with previous contractor Kingdom Construction Ltd., and ordered its workers and officials out of the fly-in community, located about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. Chief Chris Moonias told CBC News on Monday that Razar Contracting Services Ltd., based in Selkirk, Man., is now working on the project.” Read more here…

September 17, 2019 (Sault Online):

Why we should copy Sudbury: Letter to the Editor

“As our city awaits the arrival of the Noront Resources ferrochrome production facility slated to be located just west of the steel plant we should be aware that our sister city Soo Michigan has been and still is dealing with toxic waste containing chromium 6 (which is the unavoidable byproduct of ferrochrome production). In the case of Soo Michigan the source of chromium 6 was a leather tannery that processed animal hides, that operated from the 1800’s until 1958. Ironically this site 1.5 miles west of the city’s business centre is almost directly across the St Mary’s River from the proposed ferrochrome site. Interesting also is the fact that the property in Soo Michigan was owned by a subsidiary of Algoma Steel.” Read more here…

September 18, 2019 (National Post):

Ontario First Nation evacuates community over water safety, asks feds for help

“An abrupt downturn in an already poor water-quality situation in a northwestern Ontario Indigenous community poses more of a safety risk than the federal government is willing to acknowledge, representatives of the First Nation said Wednesday as they called for help covering the cost of evacuating the community. Most of the 250 residents of the Neskantaga First Nation, a member of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, flew out of the community on the weekend after untreated water began flowing from local taps and water pressure tapered off dramatically.” Read more here…

September 18, 2019 (Sault Star):

Ring of Fire ‘absolutely critical’ to his administration: Premier

“The development of the Ring of Fire remains a top priority for the Progressive Conservative government, said Premier Doug Ford. Ford was in Verner Tuesday attending the opening ceremonies at the International Plowing Match when he addressed questions from the media relating to everything from broadband service for rural Northern communities and education to autism and the Ring of Fire. “The Ring of Fire is absolutely critical for our administration,” Ford said. “You will see me on that bulldozer, it’s one of our highest priorities for the government and the province.” Read more…

September 18, 2019 (APTN News):

Water flowing again on Neskantaga first Nation but chief awaiting all-clear

“Officials in Neskantaga First Nation say their water issue appears to be fixed. Last week, more than 200 members of the Ontario community were sent to Thunder Bay after a broken water pump affected water pressure in homes. However, the chief is waiting to get an all-clear the water is safe for drinking before bringing people back home.” Watch the full video here.

September 19, 2019 (My North Bay Now):

‘Corridor of prosperity’ to help Ring of Fire development

“They’re calling it the “Corridor to Prosperity.” This, from Greg Rickford, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines on the current progression of the Ring of Fire. “There is great movement,” Rickford said. “We were in Sault Ste Marie just a couple of weeks ago focusing on the opportunities. The regional framework is over, almost $30 million later. The previous government failed to get us to a place with shovels in the ground.” Read more here…

September 20, 2019 (Northern Ontario Business):

Hatch, Algoma Steel join Noront’s Ring of Fire team

Mine developer signs long-term lease in Sault, hires engineering firm to advance mine projects

“Ring of Fire mine developer Noront Resources has signed with a global engineering firm to bring its mine projects to reality and has also inked a lease agreement with its new Sault Ste. Marie landlord, Algoma Steel, to establish a processing plant on the steelmaker’s property. Consulting engineers Hatch are coming aboard as an equity partner with Noront to create an integrated project management and engineering team that will manage and carry out the mine development in the James Bay region. The firm is in charge of engineering and project support services for the Eagle’s Nest nickel mine development and Noront’s string of chromite projects as part of a master services agreement.” Read more here…

September 21, 2019 (CTV News: Northern Ontario):

Ring of Fire partnership

“Three months ago, Sault Ste. Marie was announced as the host city for a ferrochrome smelter facility to process material from the ring of fire. Algoma Steel and Noront have officially become partners to build the smelter facility. The companies say Algoma is giving up part of its land in exchange for a stake in the mining company.” Read more here…

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