Getting the Ring of Fire Right

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Minister Michael Gravelle with Munzeroy and another of the Dancers in their colourful regalia
Minister Michael Gravelle with Munzeroy and another of the Dancers in their colourful regalia

The Ring of Fire Presents Huge Opportunity for Ontario.
The Ring of Fire Presents Huge Opportunity for Ontario.

Ring of Fire Development Must Benefit Ontario

THUNDER BAY – OPINION – Cliffs Natural Resources is a company primarily focused on iron ore. The company has a major holding of claims and lands in Northwestern Ontario’s Ring of Fire chromite deposit.

This past week, Cliffs Chairman said that he doubts there will be any serious action in the Ring of Fire in “his lifetime” and he plans on being around for at least another fifty years.

Cliffs Natural ResourcesLourenco Goncalves, head of U.S.-based Cliffs Natural Resources said, in a published interview with the National Post, that “I don’t believe under my watch, and I plan to stay [alive] for the next 50 years… that the Ring of Fire will be developed”.

Does that mean the Ring of Fire is dead?

Likely not. Long before Cliffs was pulling out – and as they denied the story repeatedly, the company was trying to pressure everyone into going their way.

Right now in my opinion, Cliffs is stating the Ring of Fire is “dead” as a tool to put pressure on the Ontario Government.

The Ring of Fire properties that Cliffs have are going to take government in a public / private partnership to bring the needed transportation infrastructure into play.

Cliffs can’t do it alone, and to raise the value of their claims, they need to put some big pressure on the Ontario Government.

That is not to suggest that the whole issue is one that people can put the blame on Cliffs. The Ontario Government has moved at times faster than one would expect, and then at the same time slower than they should at times.

Matawa First Nations students in the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance at Four Rivers Environmental Services Group in Thunder Bay.
Matawa First Nations students in the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance at Four Rivers Environmental Services Group in Thunder Bay.

Part of that is the simple reality of working in partnership with Matawa First Nations Chiefs.

While Cliffs took their business approach, Ontario is taking a long-view approach and ensuring that the benefits to the province and region are there for First Nations and Ontario.

Minister of Northern Development, and Mines Michael Gravelle has repeatedly spoken on the importance of getting the Ring of Fire right.

Gravelle has that part of the equation correct.

The Ring of Fire offers Ontario enormous potential. But that potential is a one shot deal. Get it right and we will all win. Get it wrong and we lose.

Choosing where to put the energy and enthusiasm to get it right is more likely to come from the Matawa Chiefs, Noront Resources, and KWG Resources.

At the heart of the project the biggest winners must be here in Ontario. To do it any other way, would be getting the Ring of Fire wrong, and that is not in Ontario’s best interests.

James Murray