On March 15th in a special meeting shareholders in Noront Resources voted in favor of a takeover by Australian mining company Wyloo. Pending approval by the Ontario Court and TSX this takeover will go through April 7th.

In a March 15th letter to federal cabinet ministers, a coalition of conservationists, environmentalists and lawyers called for a halt to the current regional assessment and a shifting of the structure so that all impacted First Nations are in leadership. On March 16th Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations stated that they should be in a leadership role in the regional assessment. They affirmed that other impacted First Nations should be involved but through a process led only by Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations. This claim was likely made in response to a letter submitted by the chiefs of Attawapiskat, Eabametoong, Fort Albany, Kashechewan, and Neskantaga First Nations who expressed concerns with the regional assessment.

On March 17th Doug Ford announced a new critical minerals strategy. This strategy will support further exploration, building processing capacity in Canada, a more competitive regulatory framework, and relying on minerals and mineral processing for economic development. This strategy emphasizes relying on extracting in Northern Ontario in order to create jobs in Southern Ontario. The Ford government’s claims that this strategy is essential to building electric vehicles and solar power and therefore part of mitigating climate change.

The critical minerals strategy and reliance on mining in the Ring of Fire was controversial. News pieces questioned whether this is a strategy that can really combat climate change considering the damage that will be done to the carbon-storing peatlands. They also highlighted the divisions between First Nations around the regional assessment, with multiple nations being excluded from leadership roles despite possible impacts. Finally, there are worries that Ford has not done enough to address environmental concerns raised by lawyers and advocates for the First Nations in the region that have not yet approved of an extractive project.

March 15, 2022 (Northern Ontario Business)

Noront shareholders approve sale to Wyloo Metals

$616.9-million Ring of Fire deal could be finalized on April 7

“A major milestone has been reached on the path of potential mining development in the Ring of Fire.

Noront Resources shareholders overwhelming approved the sale of the Toronto junior miner’s mineral assets in the Far North to Wyloo Metals of Australia.” Read more here…

March 16, 2022 (Sault Star)

Noront’s sharholders OK takeover by Wyloo Metals

“Shareholders of Noront Resources are strongly backing a takeover offer from Wyloo Metals.

Nearly 99 per cent of votes backed the arrangement with the Australian company, a release says. At least two-thirds of votes cast by shareholders had to support the deal. The pact also needed approval of 50 per cent of minority shareholders. The arrangement garnered 98 per cent backing.” Read more here…

March 16, 2022 (Northern Ontario Business)

Environmentalists say Ottawa’s Ring of Fire assessment doesn’t address full impact of Far North mining

Letter to federal cabinet ministers supporst First Nation-led process with a wider study area

“A coalition of conservationists, environmentalists and lawyers want Ottawa’s Ring of Fire environmental assessment process to be broadened in size and scope to include industrial centres like Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury.

In a March 15 letter sent to three federal cabinet ministers, the group is calling for a pause in the two-year-old Regional Assessment process in order to rejig the structure and governance to allow Indigenous communities in the region to take the lead.” Read more here…

March 17, 2022 (Net News Ledger)

Ring of Fire: Martens Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation provide an update

“Marten Falls and Webequie propose a tiered-relationship model for the RA process, where Indigenous communities across the region engage with Marten Falls and Webequie directly to discuss their concerns about future activities in the Ring of Fire. Both communities recognize the importance of neighbouring communities’ input and encourage meaningful dialogue with these communities to ensure equitable participation in the RA process and ongoing assessments. A key benefit of this model is that it affirms the rights of a community on its traditional territory, enables the equitable participation of neighbouring communities, and advances reconciliation.” Read more here…

March 17th 2022 (Toronto Star)

Doug Ford unveils mining strategy in Northern Ontario

With the June 2 election just 11 weeks away, Doug Ford was at a massive mine outside Thunder Bay on Thursday to unveil a five-year, 53-page “critical minerals strategy” for the province.

“The premier said it would serve as his Progressive Conservative government’s “blueprint” for bringing raw material resources from the north to manufacturers in southern Ontario.” Read more here…

March 17, 2022 (Global News)

Ontario announces critical minerals strategy aiming to attract investment

“Ontario is seeking to attract more critical mineral development and investment to the resource-rich province, with Premier Doug Ford tying it to his bid to boost the province’s electric vehicle and battery production.” Read more here…

March 17, 2022 (Northern Ontario Business)

Ontario government wants to be a world leader in critical minerals production

Provincial releases critical minerals strategy, funds early-stage exploration program and mining innovation

“A little more than a year after asserting that Ontario should be a world leader in the emerging net-zero economy, the provincial government released its five-year road map with its much-touted Critical Mineral Strategy.” Read more here…

March 18, 2022 (Toronto Star)

Takeover of Noront Resources approved

“An Australian company’s bid to take control of what are believed to be large nickel and chromite deposits in the Ring of Fire mineral belt has been accepted by shareholders.” Read more here…

March 18, 2022 (Timmins Today)

Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations assert their traditional claim to the Ring of Fire

Communities welcome regional input but insist they’ll steer the federal Regional Assessment process

“Two First Nation communities in the James Bay region are drawing a line in the sand to make it clear that the mineral-rich Ring of Fire sits within their traditional territory.

The leadership of Marten Falls and Webequie insist if an upcoming federal environmental assessment to study the impacts of mining in the Far North is to be an Indigenous-led process, they’ll be the ones leading it, “without exception.”” Read more here…

March 18, 2022 (CBC)

Mining Ontario’s Ring of Fire could help build green energy — but also damage vital peatlands

The climate trade-off of developing Ontario’s Ring of Fire

“Roughly 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont., lies one of the most carbon-rich peatlands on the planet. This water-logged landscape of lakes, ponds and rivers carpeted in moss is known as the Hudson Bay Lowlands — or the “breathing lands” to nearby First Nations. 

But along with its status as an enormous stash of carbon, the area has become synonymous with a mining development known as the Ring of Fire, which the Ontario government has supported for more than a decade and included in a new “critical minerals” strategy announced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford today.” Read more here…

March 18, 2022 (CTV News: Northern Ontario)

Ontario releases critical minerals strategy; looks to position itself as global leader

“All eyes in Ontario’s mining world were on a mine north of Thunder Bay on Thursday afternoon as Premier Doug Ford released the province’s first-ever ‘Critical Minerals Strategy.’  

Critical minerals — like nickel, cobalt and lithium — are worth $3.5 billion a year to the provincial economy. Toronto is also home to the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and the TSX Venture Exchange, which raises capital for critical mineral exploration.” Read more here…

March 18, 2022 (CBC)

Ontario makes big promises with critical minerals plans but First Nations advocates remain concerned

Premier Doug Ford aims to position Ontario as major supplier of rare earth metals amid green tech boom

“Lawyers and advocates for First Nations in northern Ontario say they’re concerned the Ford government wants to press ahead with mining development in the Ring of Fire without properly involving First Nations or addressing their environmental concerns.” Read more here…

March 19, 2022 (Canadian Mining Journal)

Progress or peril? First Nations in the Ring of Fire divided on infrastructure — and the mining development it would attract

“Marten Falls Chief Bruce Achneepineskum is eager to start work on a 200-km permanent, all-season road to his remote, fly-in First Nations community in the James Bay Lowlands, about 170 km northeast of Nakina.” Read more here…

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