OTTAWA – If the Ring of Fire is to reach its potential, it will require engagement with First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario. Minister Tony Clement, Minister for FedNor, met with representatives of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) during their annual convention to underscore the importance of a collaborative approach to the development of the Ring of Fire, with an emphasis on early dialogue with First Nations.
“Our Government’s top priority is jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The Ring of Fire is a generational opportunity that can materially improve the economic prospects and quality of life for thousands,” said Clement. “The Harper Government is committed to working closely with the First Nation communities located near the Ring of Fire to ensure that they realize fully the economic benefits of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Ring of Fire Potential Huge
In a statement, Clement says, “The Ring of Fire, located approximately 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay, is potentially the largest mining development Northern Ontario has ever seen. The region has significant deposits of nickel and copper, and represents North America’s single largest deposit of chromite, the main ingredient in stainless steel. With mineral content worth an estimated $30-$50-billion, the Ring of Fire could create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in Northern Ontario alone”.
“Our Government recognizes the importance of natural resource developments, like the Ring of Fire” commented Clement, “to our country’s growth and long-term prosperity. That is why we are implementing a comprehensive resource development agenda based on principles of efficient governance, environmental protection and consultation with First Nations.”
“Our Government remains focused on four priorities, as outlined by the Prime Minister, that Canadians care most about: their families, the safety of our streets and communities, their pride in being a citizen of this country, and of course, their personal financial security,” concluded Clement.
The degree of seriousness that Clement brings to the table are being hampered however by the Conservative government’s overall approach to dealing with Aboriginal groups. The treatment of Attawapiskat where a housing crisis led to the imposition of a third party manager, followed by what is widely seen as a lack of understanding by the Harper Government in dealing with First Nations is hindering the process.
Consultation and engagement with First Nations communities has been seen as one sided by many First Nations communities.
There is another potential speed bump for the Ring of Fire. The stock price for Cliffs Natural Resources is a third of what it was a year ago.