Cliffs Natural Resources says it is exploring alternatives for its chromite project in the Ring of Fire, located in the James Bay lowlands.

Another company with a stake there says those alternatives include selling Cliffs' holdings in the mineral area.

The vice-president of exploration and development for KWG Resources said his company had a discussion with Cliffs last month.

“Cliffs expressed that they are sellers of their assets in the Ring of Fire and they wanted to know if we were potential buyers,” Moe Lavigne said.

'Noront believes in the potential of the Ring of Fire.' - Noront Resources president and CEO Alan Coutts

“And the answer was “Yes.”

Lavigne said KWG is trying to line up financing to make a purchase.

He said getting Cliffs' assets would amount to a fantasy coming true for his company.

In an email to CBC News from the president and CEO of Noront Resources, the junior mining company said Thursday it is also interested in making a bid.

“Noront believes in the potential of the Ring of Fire, and would be interested in acquiring the Cliffs assets at the right price," Alan Coutts said.

So far Cliffs is only saying it  "is exploring strategic alternatives" with regard to its chromite project. In an email to CBC News, director of communications Pat Persico added that, "As of today, Cliffs does not have any new material developments to disclose to shareholders or other stakeholders."

The news shows the Ring of Fire is in deep trouble, said NDP mines critic Michael Mantha. And he blames the stalled project on a lack of leadership from the government.

“They're not moving, or they are not bringing, all of the stakeholders — particularly the First Nations and industry — along with them in their decision making,” Mantha said.

“They're making decisions without proper involvement of all the people who stand to benefit.”

He added there's no guarantee Cliffs property will be bought by any other mining company.

Mines minister Michael Gravelle issued a statement saying Cliffs has not communicated any decisions about the Ring of Fire since it elected a new board. 

The statement went on to say that "this is not about one company … it is about all of us.”