NEW YORK Noront Resources Ltd. said its plans for the development of nickel-copper and chromite deposits in the Ring of Fire region of northern Ontario "have not changed in light of the announcement by Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. to temporarily suspend their environmental assessment activities" on the Black Thor chromite project.
Cliffs cited delayed approval in the assessment process, a judicial challenge by a "number" of First Nations, unresolved land rights issues and unfinished agreements with the Ontario provincial government as reasons for the suspension (amm.com, June 12).
Noront said it has "continuously developed alternative plans, including the use of an east-west corridor, if the planned north-south access route proposed by Cliffs did not materialize."
Cliffs had been seeking government support for the development of transportation infrastructure that would link the isolated region with the rest of the country, saying that it would "not approve any significant investment capital or major construction activity until key elements supporting economic viability are resolved" (amm.com, April 26).
"In addition to supporting a north-south access route, Noront has always supported an east-west alternative approach for the development of the Ring of Fire that balances First Nations objectives, the environment and job growth," Noront chairman and interim chief executive officer Paul Parisotto said in a statement. "Were confident this alternative will be attractive to each level of government, the local communities and the people who will benefit from this sensible approach to stimulating development in the Ring of Fire."
The Toronto-based company said an east-west all-weather corridor would build upon existing winter roads to minimize environmental impact and cost, with the potential for expansion to support further developments in the region.
Noront is in the final stage of its environmental assessment for the Eagles Nest nickel-copper project and still intends to submit the assessment this fall. The company also is developing the Blackbird chromite deposit in the same region.