On July 30, 2014 an Ontario divisional court ruled on the June 16-17 appeal by Cliffs after the Ontario Mining and Lands commissioner denied Cliffs an easement for a road to reach its Ring of Fire chromite deposit(s) as the proposed rout would be over claims currently being held by KWG resources.
KWG has previously staked and held claims from Nakina North to the Ring of fire along a natural esker system which is the best and easiest route for making a north-south road to/from the Ring of Fire.
Cliffs contended that KWG is holding the companies in the Ring of Fire hostage by blocking that critical route. Cliffs has halted activity in the Ring of Fire after it launched the appeal last October.
The decision allowed the appeal and as such has set aside the Mining Lands Commissioners decision in September and granted the original application for an easement over the KWG claims. This ruling only allows for the application to proceed and in the end KWG will need to negotiate the conditions of the easement over its claims, but cannot with-hold consent. Basically a mining claim allows the claim owner to explore for minerals, however does not allow them to use the surface rights on those claims to block others from utilizing the surface rights for legitimate uses.
The final decision on allowing the easement is in the hands will be up to the Natural Resources Minister (Bill Mauro).
The ruling stated:
”Whether or not it is in the public interest to grant an easement for a road is a matter for the Minister of Natural Resources to determine, after an environmental assessment and consultation with First Nations and other affected interests. It is for the Minister to determine whether the easement should be granted in the public interest and on what terms. CCC (KWG) will be able to participate in that process.” And elsewhere: ”I would add that the issue being decided under s.51(4) of the Mining Act does not deprive CCC (KWG) of its ability at the next stage to oppose Cliffs’ easement application or to ask for conditions that would protect its legitimate interests in its mining claims.”