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Approvals for the proposed $3B Ring of Fire mine in Ontario are getting increasingly tangled, as...

Approvals for the proposed $3B Ring of Fire mine in Ontario are getting increasingly tangled, as a key environmental group asks for provincial government mediation on how Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) plans to develop a giant chromite deposit in the fragile James Bay lowlands. The group says CLF is dramatically changing its plans without properly consulting the public.
Comments (10)
  • maverta
    , contributor
    Comments (329) | Send Message
    Can anyone who knows about this comment?
    26 Mar 2013, 11:21 AM Reply Like
  • Jim Fish
    , contributor
    Comments (298) | Send Message
    Macdonald Mines (MCDMF.PK) is a way to play the Ring of Fire mines. They already own a lot of land and plots up there that they are developing. Total speculative that has little to no volume on most days. $CLF could in theory buy up MCDMF.PK and get into it that way without the approval.
    26 Mar 2013, 11:28 AM Reply Like
  • jimmy11
    , contributor
    Comments (50) | Send Message
    Incorrect, Macdonald Mines has no infrastructure or any access except via helicopter. They will be dependent on the proposed infrastructure corridor which is the subject of this protest, as will be Cliffs
    26 Mar 2013, 11:42 AM Reply Like
  • Jim Fish
    , contributor
    Comments (298) | Send Message
    Hence why MCDMF.PK has exposure to this... that was my point.
    27 Mar 2013, 07:57 AM Reply Like
  • FredericBrown
    , contributor
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    Canada Chrome Corporation, subsidiary of KWG, has the prior rights to surface rights to the only economically feasible north/south ore transport corridor, unless CLF is granted easement by the Ontario Lands and Mining commissioner. CLF offered their minority joint-venturer, KWG, an undisclosed amount for exclusive surface rights but they refused their offer.


    The commissioner is expected to make her decision within the next few months.


    KWG originally discovered the chromite along with SPQ and FRW. CLF bought both SPQ and FRW to gain control of the chromite deposits, effectively eliminating it's competition, freezing KWG out of the business.


    CLF has recently publicly stated that they have no plan B, should they not be granted easement.

    26 Mar 2013, 12:42 PM Reply Like
  • jimmy11
    , contributor
    Comments (50) | Send Message
    The surface rights and land remain the property of the Crown a staked mining claim only grants the right to explore for and mine any minerals found thereon. Canada Chrome has no exclusive rights to the surface of the claims in question
    The relevant portion of the Ontario Mining act provides in Section 50 Rights of Licensee:


    Surface rights


    (2) The holder of a mining claim does not have any right, title or claim to the surface rights of the claim other than the right, subject to the requirements of this Act, to enter upon, use and occupy such part or parts thereof as are necessary for the purpose of prospecting and the efficient exploration, development and operation of the mines, minerals and mining rights therein. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.14, s. 50 (2); 2009, c. 21, s. 28 (1).


    Hence the road rights that Canada Chrome purports to have exclusive possession of remain in the Crown and may be granted by the Crown to any party at the discretion of the Mining Commissioner under the relevant Ontario law and regulations. It appears from the statutory language that the only thing that Canada Chrome has is a nuisance claim that the courts would be very unlikely to support against the Crown (Government of Ontario)
    26 Mar 2013, 04:31 PM Reply Like
  • FredericBrown
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
    Excellent comment, jimmy11


    However, subsection 51.(1) is more specific to surface rights on CCC's unpatented mining claims;


    51. (1) Except as in this Act is otherwise provided, the holder of an unpatented mining claim has the right prior to any subsequent right to the user of the surface rights, except the right to sand, peat and gravel, for prospecting and the efficient exploration, development and operation of the mines, minerals and mining rights. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.14, s. 51 (1); 2009, c. 21, s. 29 (1).


    In January, 2012, the MNR advised Cliffs that it would have to obtain the consent of Canadian Chromite to any disposition “to enable MNR to grant an easement over [the] lands”, as holders of the affected unpatented mining claims. Also, the Office of the Provincial Mining Recorder, of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) was notified concerning the application to “ensure the priority to the surface rights for this application under the Public Lands Act, subject to any existing rights (e.g. unpatented mining claims in good standing).”


    A section 51 hearing under the Mining Act is one in which the tribunal is charged with the task of trying to determine if a claim holder who refuses to consent to disposition of the surface rights (to which it has a prior right) should be required to share in the use of those surface rights.


    In reality, when you examine the evidence, arguments and precedent in this case, this is anything but a nuisance claim.
    27 Mar 2013, 11:12 AM Reply Like
  • jimmy11
    , contributor
    Comments (50) | Send Message
    Thank you for for your informative and responsive reply to my comment. As of course we are both aware, differences of opinion are what leads to law suits or Mining Commissioner's hearings. I have heard a number of knowledgeable and informed parties express their opinions as to the validity of the Canada Chrome claims to exclusivity. One factor that will certainly play into any outcome is the various First Nation interest groups and their desires for infrastructure such as grid power and all season road access to the various affected reserves. It will be quite interesting to see how all of the various political and legal factors play out in the final resolution of the numerous issues related to access and infrastructure corridors; their location and control.
    28 Mar 2013, 10:39 AM Reply Like
  • FredericBrown
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
    Again, jimmy11, your comments are of high caliber and greatly appreciated.


    The First Nation's interests for power, road, communication and other infrastructure are extremely important. These and many more FN issues need to be meaningfully addressed at many different levels of government and industry immediately.


    However, the mining commissioner and her tribunal have a very limited scope when rendering a decision regarding easement in this case.


    For this reason, I hope you will be interested in a deeper discussion of the merits, which I have broken down into four segments; Priority of Rights: "First-Come" Basis, Scope: A Section 51 Hearing, The Multiple Use Principle, and Infringement of the Rights Holder.


    Priority of Rights: "First-Come" Basis


    An underlying principle in both the Ontario Mining Act and Aggregate Resource Act is that rights, patents, leases, licences or other instruments of title are granted on a "first-come priority" basis.


    Except where the Mining Act otherwise expressly provides, section 63 states that the "priority of recording" prevails. In subsection 44.(2), regarding the staking of claims, it is the "priority of completion of staking" that prevails. Under the surface rights compensation subsection 79.(8), the Commissioner "shall take into account which of the rights was applied for first and, except where injustice would result, shall give the holder of those rights due priority in the consideration of the dispute between the parties."


    In subsection 28.(3) of the Mining Act, an application accepted under the Public Lands Act or any other Act, the application shall have priority over any mining claim staked "during" the time that the application is pending. However, in the easement case of "2274659 Ontario Inc. v Canada Chrome Corporation", the respondent's unpatented mining claims were recorded "before" the Crown's Order No. W-TB-172/11, dated January 17, 2012, which withdrew all surface and mining rights to make way for the applicant's Transload Facility and Transportation Corridor. Canada Chrome Corporation's staked mining claims take priority over the Crown's application for withdrawal.


    Non-observance of this fundamental "first-come priority" principle by the tribunal would allow the Crown to effect an expropriation from a minority joint-venturer, the respondent, in order to prefer the exclusive interest of the majority joint-venturer, the applicant.


    Further, under the Aggregate Resources Act, the right to consolidated aggregate is granted on a first-come priority basis (i.e. "receipt" or "acceptance" by the MNR of an aggregate permit application vs. staked mining claim). It is a question of timing as to which instrument takes precedence. The respondent's staked mining claims were registered previous to the MNR's "receipt" or "acceptance" date of the Cliffs Natural Resource's applications for aggregate permits along the Transportation Corridor, should the area covered by the aggregate permit applications and mining claims overlap.


    "The issuance of a licence/aggregate permit is not dependent upon an individual acquiring the
    mining rights under the Mining Act. However, there are advantages to staking the land, as it
    provides protection from competing interests while an application under the ARA is being
    prepared and/or would allow exploration activities to be undertaken (subject to the provisions of
    the Mining Act)." (ARA Guiding Principles policy no. A.R. 5.00.06)


    If a mining claim is staked and/or recorded before an application for an aggregate permit or licence is received for the same land, then an aggregate permit will be issued only to the recorded holder(s). The former instrument, CCC's staked mining claims, have priority in the consideration for aggregate right permits under the Aggregate Resource Act. (ARA Guiding Principles policy no. A.R. 5.00.06)


    To be continued.
    29 Mar 2013, 01:13 PM Reply Like
  • jimmy11
    , contributor
    Comments (50) | Send Message


    Thank you for your courteous, very informed and in depth reply and your sharing of your very pertinent and cogent information with me and others who will read it. Very obviously you have studied and thought about the Canada Chrome/Mining Commissioner matter in much more depth and detail than I have.


    Since you are so very well informed on the matter and I never studied Ontario law and it has been about 40 years since I studied or practiced US law. It would be very informative and helpful if you would be able or inclined to share any thoughts you might have as to the initial validity of the staking. Is it authorized and appropriate under the Mining Act to stake a claim for the purpose of acquisition of surface rights i.e. road, railway and power line locations rather than to acquire mineral commodities and the mining and prospecting rights needed to discover, define and mine the minerals ? I would be most interested in the thoughts of an informed and knowledgeable person from an Ontario Mining Act perspective as to that question or issue. According to my US based perspective and understanding this would be a significant material issue under the 1872 US mining law


    To me at least it would appear that aggregate would also be a mineral resource; which the government of Ontario has chosen to deal with via a separate and distinct set of rules apart from the general mining act. This would be similar to the US distinction between locatable and leaseable minerals. Whereas the right to build a road would not appear to constitute a mineral substance or resource; hence a further question would it be possible for a Commissioner or other appropriate Crown officer to declare the Canada Chrome claims invalid ab initio because they were not staked in accordance with the Mining Act and its basic purpose; which appears to me to be: to encourage the discovery and mining of valuable minerals and mineral commodities? Your thoughts or comments would be of great interest and very informative, to me and I am sure to other readers of the article and comments.


    Again many thanks for your very cogent informative response and the information therein.
    30 Mar 2013, 10:50 AM Reply Like
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