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Ring of Fire fizzling

OTTAWA -- Mining development in the Ring of Fire region in remote northern Ontario has hit another snag.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. says it is calling a temporary halt to its environmental assessment activities for a major chromite mine in the area.

The company says the suspension is due to delays related to the environmental process, land surface rights and negotiations with the Ontario government about building infrastructure in the fly-in-only region.

Senior vice-president Bill Boor says the company is talking to the provincial government and First Nations from the area in the hopes of eventually restarting the environmental assessment.

"While most aspects of the chromite project have advanced according to plan, temporarily suspending the environmental assessment work acknowledges that certain critical elements of the project's future are not solely within our control and require the active support and participation by other interested parties such as government agencies and impacted First Nation communities," Boor said in a news release.

Both the federal and provincial governments have high hopes for billions of dollars of investment in the Ring of Fire -- development they hope will bring prosperity to struggling First Nations and royalties to their own coffers..

But neither level of government has made a public financial commitment to subsidize a road that would carry ore from the mine.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who has federal responsibility for the Ring of Fire file, said Wednesday he still has faith in the prospects for the area -- if not through the Cliffs project then through another proposal spearheaded by junior mining company Noront Resources Ltd.

 

Strong Manitoba growth

MANITOBA will post the fourth strongest economic growth in the country this year, according to the latest forecast from the Conference Board of Canada.

In its Spring 2013 Provincial Outlook report released on Wednesday, the Ottawa-based think-tank predicts Manitoba will see real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.2 per cent this year -- nearly a half a percentage point better than the projected national average of 1.8 per cent.

The only provinces it thinks will do better are Newfoundland and Labrador (6.1 per cent growth), Saskatchewan (3.9 per cent) and Alberta (3.1 per cent).

It's also forecasting a repeat performance for Manitoba in 2014, with projected growth of 2.3 per cent. However, it thinks six other provinces will do even better next year, with growth ranging from 2.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent. And it expects the Canadian economy to outperform the Manitoba economy, with growth of 2.5 per cent.

The spring forecast is essentially unchanged from the board's previous forecast, which predicted growth of 2.1 per cent for Manitoba this year and 2.3 per cent for 2014.

-- staff / news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2013 B8

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