From Thunder Bay Friday, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle (pictured) delivered an update on the Ring of Fire development in Northwestern Ontario.
The Ring of Fire region has been identified as an area of astonishing economic potential for all of Northern Ontario, with economic spinoffs for Sault Ste. Marie.
Sault and area infrastructure (roads and rail) will benefit as a way to transport raw and processed material from the Ring of Fire through our region to the marketplace, and it is hoped Sault firms will be able to benefit through the manufacturing, supply and sale of equipment that may be used in the Ring of Fire development.
The region includes the largest deposit of chromite (a key ingredient for stainless steel) ever discovered in North America, with a mineral potential worth $60 billion, and development of the region is seen by the province and mining firms as a “multi-generational” opportunity that will create thousands of jobs in Northern Ontario.
The mammoth project faces two main challenges, Gravelle reminded his audience Friday.
The first is the need for new infrastructure needed to access the Ring of Fire region.
“This is a remote part of the Far North where there has not been a resource development at all before….creating all-season access to the Ring of Fire is vital to ensuring the future success and benefits of this mining project.”
Gravelle announced Friday that, in keeping with a November 2013 commitment, a Ring of Fire development corporation has been established, with the firm Deloitte retained as a third party “to coordinate the best interests of all the partners in the corporation,” those partners being Matawa-member First Nations communities, mining companies and the provincial and federal governments.
Gravelle said an infrastructure report will be prepared by Deloitte, a report which he said will be “crucial” and hopes to see it completed “as soon as possible.”
Secondly, Gravelle said the corporation will be working with Matawa-member First Nations communities to ensure they share in the economic benefits of the project and that environmental safeguards are put in place.
“We (the provincial government) are prepared to make a significant investment in infrastructure development,” Gravelle said, but expressed disappointment that despite words of support for the project in the past from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several federal cabinet ministers (including Greg Rickford, Minister responsible for the Ring of Fire), “there was no mention in the federal budget about the Ring of Fire and certainly no explicit federal commitment (to infrastructure spending for the project).”
“Certainly I will be calling on the federal government to join us in enabling this project to move forward…the federal government certainly needs to be at the table.”
“There wasn’t even a mention of the Ring of Fire in the federal budget,” Gravelle said.
“It is very difficult for me to imagine that the federal government, with its commitment it’s made on so many occasions from the Prime Minister on down to various Ministers about how important the Ring of Fire is to the future of the province and the North, that they would not become engaged in this process, so we are prepared to make a very significant investment, and the federal government needs to be a part of it.”
The full texts of releases from the Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle and from NDP Northern Development and Mines Critic Michael Mantha follow.
Province moving infrastructure development forward
Ontario is taking another step towards the development of the Ring of Fire. The firm Deloitte LLP has been brought on to help establish the development corporation, which will be responsible for infrastructure in the Ring of Fire region.
Deloitte LLP will act as a neutral, third-party resource for key partners, including First Nations, the provincial and federal governments and industry.
Deloitte LLP will work with Ring of Fire partners to set clear paths and timelines for decision-making, create guiding principles for the development corporation, and seek consensus on the corporation's next steps.
Work is also underway to help partners build a common understanding of infrastructure needs in the region.
A third-party research report will examine existing infrastructure proposals and establish a common technical basis to inform decisions to maximize the economic and social potential of the Ring of Fire region.
Building infrastructure and working collaboratively with First Nations on economic development is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow.
The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strengths -- its people and strategic partnerships.
Deloitte LLP is one of Canada’s leading professional firms in consulting and corporate negotiation.
The Ring of Fire has a known mineral potential to be worth $60 billion and includes the largest deposit of chromite ever discovered in North America. Chromite is a key ingredient of stainless steel.
The Ring of Fire is a multi-generational opportunity that will establish a new mineral resource in a part of the province that has never seen this type of development.
The development will help transform the region, create thousands of jobs and enhance the economic prosperity for Ontario.
In July 2013, Ontario appointed former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci as the lead negotiator on behalf of Ontario to participate in discussions with the Matawa-member First Nations communities on proposed resource development in the Ring of Fire.
The province announced the creation of a development corporation to bring together private and public partners, including key mining companies, First Nations, and the provincial and federal governments, to lead the strategic infrastructure development for the Ring of Fire region.
Regional Framework agreement negotiations led by Frank Iacobucci for Ontario and Bob Rae for the Matawa-member First Nations communities continue to progress and finalization is expected in the near future.
Development of the Ring of Fire is subject to all necessary environmental assessment and regulatory processes and approvals and the Crown fulfilling its duty to consult.
We know that collaborating with our partners is vital to developing the Ring of Fire. That is why our government is committed to driving progress through the development corporation and that is why I am so pleased that we are getting significantly closer to a historic agreement on a regional framework with the Matawa First Nations. We remain committed to making a significant investment to support infrastructure needs in the region, but we need partners to come together so that decisions can be made. There is shared opportunity and shared interest in this incredible $60 billion deposit and I am confident that infrastructure priorities can come together. That is the work the development corporation will drive and certainly as one of the partners, that is the work we are eager to see happen.”
Minister of Northern Development and Mines