Ring of Fire Updates Weekly News Roundup

February 1-14, 2022: Weekly News Roundup

No new news is good news? Over the last two weeks, all eyes have been on the federal government’s highly flawed framework for the regional assessment which forms part of the environmental assessment process to determine the potential impacts of mining development, and other related projects in the region. This week’s news roundup provides useful information and background for those who want to get caught up on some of the major issues impacting the region, including:

  • The December 2021 purchase of Norton Resources by Australian mining giant Wyloo metals making that company the largest holder of the majority of mining concessions in the Ring of Fire region. The CEO of Wyloo says “he’s laser-focused on building a nickel mine there, within the next five years…”
  • Critiques about the flawed terms of reference for the regional impact assessment, including a mid-January letter to Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault from the chiefs of five Indigenous communities. The chiefs demand that the terms be scrapped since they ““wrongly excludes us Indigenous peoples from all but token roles.”
  • Calls from environmental organizations for the Ontario government to revise the draft regulation of the amended Environmental Assessment Act to expand its list of projects that require environmental assessment. The current list, they argue, is “not credible or comprehensive because it inexplicably omits numerous types of private sector projects, activities, or facilities that may pose serious risks to the environment or human health and safety.”

February 8, 2022 (The Timmins Daily Press):

Ring of Fire development challenges loom

“In the last days of December, Australia’s Wyloo Metals Ltd. offered $617 million in cash to buy Noront Resources Ltd., ending a bidding war with fellow Australian mining giant BHP Group, and emerging as the presumptive new owner of the collection of mineral claims in Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands known as the Ring of Fire.

The deal, expected to close in the next few months, leads to at least one major question: What happens next in the Ring of Fire? Cut off from the rest of Ontario, the project would require more than $1 billion of taxpayer investment in roads and infrastructure.

Against this backdrop, Wyloo Metals head Luca Giacovazzi has said that the Ring of Fire is one of the most prospective mineral belts in the world and that he’s laser-focused on building a nickel mine there, within the next five years, that could help feed raw materials for an electric vehicle battery supply chain in Canada.” Read more…

February 7, 2022 (The Energy Mix):

Guilbeault Takes Heat as Ring of Fire Regional Assessment Sidelines Indigenous Communities

“In the vast peatlands of Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands, a new region-wide approach to considering the potential impacts of northern mining development is dangerously close to sliding completely off the rails. And it may take Canada’s new “activist” Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault with it.

Mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire have long fuelled Ontario’s interest in opening up the region, York University’s Dayna Nadine Scott writes for The Conversation. Now, dreams of a new nickel mine are driving plans for an electric vehicle manufacturing hub and leading Australian mining giant Wyloo to take over major mining stakes.” Read more…

February 7, 2022 (Law Times):

Environmental groups call for revision of draft environmental assessment regulation

Draft regulation omits projects that may pose serious health and safety risks: environmental groups

“Several environmental groups have appealed to the Ontario government to revise a draft regulation issued under the amended Environmental Assessment Act (EAA).

In November 2021, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks issued draft regulations that provide greater clarity and transparency for proponents, stakeholders, governmental officials, and public members regarding the types of projects that will or will not require an environmental assessment under the amended EAA.” Read more…

February 11, 2022 (TVO):

Who gets to decide the future of the Ring of Fire?

It’s one of Ontario’s last undeveloped regions, but First Nations say they’ve been given “token roles” in shaping its future

“It’s been 15 years since metal deposits were found in the so-called Ring of Fire. Now, the planned mining development, which spans 5,000 square kilometres in northern Ontario, has entered a new phase — and a group of First Nations wants to make sure its concerns are front and centre.

The new phase includes a regional assessment, a federal process that considers the effect that mining could have on one of Ontario’s last undeveloped regions. Five neighbouring First Nations are demanding that the government “start afresh with a commitment to have the regional impact assessment mutually and equally co-developed and co-led and co-enforced by an Indigenous governing body … that we Indigenous Nations will develop.”

TVO.org breaks down what a regional assessment involves, what the First Nations are hoping to achieve, and what comes next.” Read more…

February 11, 2022 (TVO):

What’s next for the Ring of Fire?

“The long-promised and highly-contested development of the Ring of Fire is now entering the regional-assessment phase and a group of First Nations in Ontario’s far north is hoping to redraw the process to put Indigenous concerns front and centre. How will they accomplish this? And why should Ontarians care?” Watch the news clip…

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