Ring of Fire ambitions on hold for Cliffs Natural Resources

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) has hit the brakes on its chromite project in northern Ontario.

The company's affiliate, Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc., has temporarily suspended an environmental assessment of the Ring of Fire region, where it plans to develop the mine. The project cannot move forward without the assessments, which must be approved by federal and provincial governments.

Problems stem from land rights issues, uncertainty over the federal environmental assessment process, as well as unfinished agreements with the provincial government.

"We will continue our work with the Government of Ontario and First Nation communities and look forward to restarting the work on the EA," Bill Boor, senior vice president of global ferroalloys for Cliffs said in a statement today.

Another company with plans to mine deposits in the Ring of Fire, Noront Resources Ltd. (CVE:NOT), responded to the news by issuing a statement announcing that it will proceed as planned. The company intends to submit its environmental assessment to the government this fall.

The Ring of Fire is a region of the James Bay Lowlands and is potentially the largest mining development of northern Ontario.

Creative Commons image by Mike Beauregard