Ring of Fire Updates Weekly News Roundup

Weekly News Roundup: January 25 – February 3, 2023

This past week, Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Wapekeka First Nation, and Neskantaga First Nation asserted a mutual cooperation agreement, stating a commitment to work together to protect the land and water, and to oppose Ontario’s free entry system of mineral exploration. This agreement was released just days before the 28-year anniversary of the boil water advisory inflicted on Neskantaga First Nation.

Ontario’s “free entry” system allows mineral prospectors to stake claims on and explore territory for mineral without consulting Indigenous nations. Often these prospectors, who stake their claims through an online system, are not even informed that the land they are interested in exploring is on Indigenous territory. These practices and this system are highly contested by many; on January 27, Ginoogaming First Nation went back to court around this very issue, seeking a continued ban on mineral exploration on sacred lands despite pressure from the provincial government to cave.

You can read the full text of the agreement here: https://freegrassy.net/23497-2/

On January 26th, Ring of Fire Metals (formerly Noront Resources) CEO Steve Flewelling spoke to a crowd in Sudbury with updates about the various elements of infrastructure needed to make the Ring of Fire a reality. His comments mostly reflected the same things Noront has been saying for years – that the project is feasible, that it is moving forward (but would be moving faster with less government bureaucracy in the way), that roads are needed in order to accomplish the first step: the Eagle’s Nest mine. Flewelling did share one new bit of information, which is that Ring of Fire Metals is not committed to building its smelter in Sault Ste. Marie. This will be a relief to those who have been speaking out against the potential smelter in the Soo, but raises questions about where it might be located instead.

January 25, 2023 (Northern Ontario Business):

Ginoogaming First Nation seeks further ban on mineral exploration

The First Nation was previously granted an injunction to prevent mineral exploration in an area it has declared to be sacred

“A court hearing scheduled for this Friday in Toronto will determine whether Ginoogaming First Nation is granted an interlocutory injunction to prevent mineral exploration in part of its traditional territory pending the outcome of a lawsuit against Ontario and two mining companies. In September 2021, the First Nation received an extension of an interim injunction preventing exploration firms connected to Geraldton prospector Mike Malouf from exercising their three-year Ontario government permits to explore in an area that Ginoogaming has declared to be sacred and culturally significant. In the 2021 decision, a Superior Court judge ordered Ontario to engage in ‘meaningful consultation'”‘ with Ginoogaming.” Read more here…

January 26, 2023 (CTV News Northern Ontario):

Progress being made in Eagle’s Nest mine in Ring of Fire

“The project still faces some hurdles, but he told reporters they have every confidence in both levels of government that the work can be done expeditiously. ‘We’re going to be putting forward proposals and discussions with both the provincial and federal governments on how do we create a framework to get these assessments done in a timely and responsible way,’ Flewelling said. ‘Do we believe that can happen? Absolutely.'” Read more here…

January 26, 2023 (Sudbury Star):

Ring of Fire development begins with a road, Sudbury audience is told

CEO of Ring of Fire Metals also says mineral-rich area contains minerals coveted for the growing electric vehicle market

“While chromite for the steel industry has been a major focus of developing the Ring of Fire in the province’s far north, the area is also rich in other minerals coveted for the growing electric vehicle market. ‘We’re a firm believer that the Ring of Fire hosts multiple nickel deposits, not unlike Sudbury,’ said Stephen Flewelling, CEO of Ring of Fire Metals, in a virtual presentation to a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday. The U.S. has identified a number of critical minerals and metals needed to sustain its economy and produce EV batteries, noted Flewelling, who previously held senior roles with Glencore and Xstrata.” Read more here…

January 27, 2023 (Northern Ontario Business):

Government regulatory duplication slowing progress in the Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire Metal CEO Steve Flewelling seeks balanced, faster approach to advance Far North Nickel project

“Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson wants to avoid government duplication with the provinces in regulations and permitting in order to bring new critical mineral mines into production quicker. So does Ring of Fire Metals CEO Steve Flewelling. But when it comes to proposed mine development in the James Bay region, Wilkinson insisted last month that no shortcuts will be taken in safeguarding the environment, protecting fragile peatlands, and in respecting the rights of Indigenous people and communities near any proposed mine site.” Read more here…

January 27, 2023 (CBC):

Location of ferrochrome smelter still up in the air, says Ring of Fire Metal CEO

‘One thing I can say for sure is we are committed to placing that facility in Northern Ontario’

“While Sault Ste. Marie was identified in 2019 as the preferred site for a ferrochrome facility, Ring of Fire Metals, which owns several of the mineral deposits about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, says its still considering its options. We first heard the words ‘Ring of Fire,’ connected to mining back in 2010. Now, 13 years later, the project hasn’t made much progress and has instead been marked by delays.” Read more here…

February 1, 2023 (Global News):

Four Ontario First Nations voice concerns over mining claims on their lands

“Four First Nations in northern Ontario are calling on the province to address their concerns about mining exploration companies intruding on their lands. Grassy Narrows, Wapekeka, Neskantaga and Big Trout Lake First Nations say they’ve formed an alliance to defend their lands and waters after mining prospectors staked thousands of new claims on their territories over the last few years.

Chief Rudy Turtle of Grassy Narrows said he wants the provincial government to seek his community’s informed consent before allowing companies to explore the First Nation’s lands for precious minerals. Turtle said the current mining system in the province allows companies and individuals to stake mining claims on First Nations lands without the consent of Indigenous people who live there. ‘We just don’t want any companies extracting our resources without our consent’, Turtle said in an interview on Wednesday.” Read more here…

February 1, 2023 (Yahoo!News):

‘We were poisoned before’: Ontario First Nations voice concerns over mining claims

“Four First Nations in northern Ontario are calling on the province to address their concerns about mining exploration companies intruding on their lands, saying the current “free entry” system should be abolished. Grassy Narrows, Wapekeka, Neskantaga and Big Trout Lake First Nations said this week they’ve formed an alliance to defend their lands and waters after mining prospectors staked thousands of new claims on their territories over the last few years.” Read more here…

February 1, 2023 (Northern Ontario Business):

Staking rush puts northwest Indigenous communities on the defensive

Four First Nations call for an end to free entry prospecting in Ontario

“Four Indigenous communities in northwestern Ontario and the Far North are forming a “land defence alliance” to stop an “incursion” by prospectors and exploration companies on their traditional lands. 

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), Wapakeka, Neskantaga and Asubpeesschoseewagong Anishnabek (Grassy Narrows) signed a Mutual Cooperation Agreement, Jan. 31, to protect their collective lands and waters. It’s response to “mounting concerns about encroachment” by the mining industry. The leadership are pinning the blame on Premier Doug Ford who, they say, has ignored their demands to abolish the free entry system and has encouraged a staking rush with “thousands of new claims” in their traditional territories since 2018.” Read more here…

February 2, 2023 (TB News Watch):

Longest boil water advisory in Canada marks 28th year

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu met with Neskantaga First Nation on Wednesday to discuss the final steps in bringing clean drinking water to the community

“Neskantaga First Nation has officially been under a boil water advisory for 28 years. The boiled water advisory was first declared in 1995 and has led to two total-community-evacuations in 2019 and 2020, which saw every community member displaced for one to three months at a time. ‘This is not a celebratory day for our community—the suffering continues, the skin conditions, scars and mental health toll persists,’ said Chief Wayne Moonias. ‘This milestone is a reminder that we are still in crisis. It is shameful and unacceptable that our community has not been able to have clean, safe, reliable drinking water for the past 28 years.'” Read more here…

February 3, 2023 (CBC):

Ontario First Nation hires outside firm to investigate 28-year boil water advisory

Neskantaga has lived under a boil water advisory longer than any other First Nation

“A northern Ontario First Nation that has lived under a boil-water advisory for nearly three decades has hired an outside consultant to find out once and for all what ails the community’s water system. Neskantaga First Nation, roughly 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont., is marking a grim milestone this month — 28 years under a boil water advisory, longer than any other First Nation. The federal government says the community’s refurbished treatment plant is now producing clean water, but community members say they’re still getting sick from what comes from their taps.” Read more here…

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