THUNDER BAY – MINING – The path forward for Noront Resources in the Ring of Fire continues to move in a positive direction for the company. The move has been coming for some time according to Noront.
The company’s Eagle’s Nest deposits are impacted by the decision by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment who has accepted amendments to the terms of reference for the company’s environmental assessment.
The Terms of Reference are the first step in the company’s environmental assessment process, according to a statement issued by the MOE. The department adds that “There is much work to be done before a decision on the project is made. It’s a work plan that outlines the types of studies and consultation Noront must undertake to demonstrate whether the proposed project can be done in a way that is protective of the environment and human health”.
Some of the amendments to Noront’s Terms of Reference include ensuring potentially impacted First Nation communities can fully participate in and contribute to the company’s environmental assessment process. The amendments include:
- identifying and assessing alternative road alignments within their preferred road corridor
- providing specific opportunities for potentially impacted First Nations to fully participate in the company’s environmental assessment
- assessing impacts of aggregate extraction, and
- considering the impacts of climate change on the project and the impacts of the project on climate change.
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, which along with Premier Wynne have come under fire from the Opposition Parties in the Legislature over slow progress in the Ring of Fire state in a release issued late Friday, “The province and Matawa-member First Nations reached a landmark agreement to ensure First Nation communities benefit from the proposed Ring of Fire development.
“Ontario is committed to continuing our efforts to work with the Matawa First Nations communities in exploring ways in which participation in the current environmental assessment process can be enhanced to better address First Nation community needs and interests.
“The province supports responsible and sustainable development in the Ring of Fire that is protective of human health and the environment.”
When Noront Resources stepped up their presence in the Ring of Fire when it acquired the claims and properties previously under Cliffs Natural Resources. That move heavily financed by Noront, was not well received by Marten Falls and Aroland First Nations.
The two First Nations have been concerned that their communities would be left behind the majority of opportunities in the Ring of Fire.
Noront provided an Eagle’s Nest Project Description to provincial and federal authorities in April 2011. After a public review and comment period on the draft guidelines, final federal guidelines for completing an Environmental Impact Statement under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act were issued to Noront in January 2012 by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). Noront also initiated a process for developing provincial Terms of Reference, in April 2011. A formal Notice of Submission for Terms of Reference was issued in March 2012, and a final amended Terms of Reference with supporting documentation was submitted to Ontario in October 2012.
On December 20, 2013, the Company issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Assessment Report (EIS/EA) for Eagle’s Nest. This document is intended to satisfy both the federal and provincial environmental assessment processes. It was circulated for comment to federal and provincial representatives as well as interested public parties and First Nation communities.