Hobbs Seeks Greater Inclusion for Ring of Fire


THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs says that “We are trying to make carrot cake, and the First Nations have all the carrots”. In attempting to bring jobs to Northwestern Ontario, Hobbs, just returning from a meeting in Sudbury, appears to be at odds once again with our two provincial MPPs. “First Nation are still more of a key player in this than Cliffs, or anyone else are acknowledging,” states Hobbs.

“The City of Thunder Bay also fully understands the key role that First Nations people have in this development,” said Mayor Hobbs. “We will continue to develop strong partnerships with First Nations including our partners Nishnawbe Aski Nation and neighbour Fort William First Nation. We also need to set the record straight and educate the community about what a Ferrochrome Processor is and the fact it is a world-class environmentally sustainable industry.”

“While we are prepared to compete hard for Thunder Bay” states Hobbs, “Cliffs has sent a clear message that without action from the Province to provide realistic energy pricing, no one in Northern Ontario will benefit from housing the processor and that would be a tremendous loss”.

“At current provincial power rates, there isn’t a location in Ontario that is economically viable for Cliffs to build the FPF,” said Bill Boor, President, Ferroalloys – Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. in a Feb. 3 media release. “The viability of an Ontario-based FPF and final selection of the location are still being evaluated.”

During the campaign, and since being elected Mayor, Hobbs has invested time listening to First Nations people, and leaders. That time is well spent, as it is ensuring that the Mayor keeps grounded in the basics. With the Ring of Fire, the potential is massive for Ontario mining, but to realize that potential, greater involvement with the First Nations in the region are going to have to come into play.

Hobbs appears to be making needed inroads with First Nations leaders that are going to be key to Thunder Bay’s future.

On the Ring of Fire, for Thunder Bay and the rest of the region to benefit the First Nations upon whose traditional lands the resources are on should also be a beneficiary too. Moving to generate economic development in the north for First Nations will generate business for Thunder Bay. It will also bring First Nations people into a better and more solid economic footing.

Also at issue is the high cost of energy in Ontario. Those cost has been cited by Cliffs Resources as a factor that may determine where a chromite processing facility will go. This morning, Cliffs Resources issued a statement, Bill Bloor, President of Ferroresources said, “At current provincial power rates, there isn’t a location in Ontario that is economically viable for Cliffs to build the FPF. Despite this, we have named Sudbury as the ‘base case’ location, which we believe is representative of a technically feasible site. The viability of an Ontario-based FPF and final selection of the location are still being evaluated.”

The hurdles do not seem to phase either Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, Michael Gravelle or Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro.

Mauro remains optimistic. “We are pleased that this company, as a private sector organization, has included Thunder Bay as a potential location for a processing facility. We are also certain that our programs put forward for energy relief for our large industrials in Ontario will ensure competitive energy costs on a go-forward basis, and that Thunder Bay, with the recently-announced conversion of our coal plant, is well-positioned to meet their energy needs,” stated Mauro.

Gravelle stated, “I am very encouraged by Cliffs Natural Resources commitment in their preliminary report released today to Northern Ontario, particularly to seeing the ferrochrome facility located in the North. While they have identified Greater Sudbury as their ‘base case’ location, it is important to note that three other communities have been cited as potential locations (Thunder Bay, Timmins and Greenstone). It is my understanding that Cliffs intends to reach out to those other communities to further discuss that opportunity. And, may I say, the Province remains absolutely committed to seeing this processing facility located in Northern Ontario. As for the energy needs required for this project, our government has put in place several programs that have significantly reduced costs for major industries in the North. But I certainly recognize that we will need to become engaged in serious discussions with Cliffs related to the energy issues associated with a processing facility. I am looking forward to beginning those discussions soon. It is also very important to point out that Cliffs senior management are hoping to meet with the Mattawa First Nations Chiefs to discuss and consult on this preliminary proposal. This is a vital aspect of this project; the First Nations, particularly those most impacted by this potential development, must see appropriate benefits come to their communities for this project to move forward”.

Energy prices in Ontario have continued to remain far higher than both Manitoba and Quebec. While some have suggested those rates are the sole reason for mill closures in Ontario, it is equally true that the forest industry in Quebec and Manitoba have also been hit hard.

Ontario, under the McGuinty Government has set a goal of making our province a leader in the “Green Energy” manufacturing sector.

For those with a sense of humour, here is a recipe for Carrot Cake from Emeril

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