THUNDER BAY – MINING – “We have to get the Ring of Fire Right”. That statement has been a the core of Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle for years.
Moving forward yesterday with a roads study, is a part of “Getting it right” asserts the Minister.
The Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario will each invest $393,814 to enable the Webequie First Nation, in partnership with the First Nations of Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Nibinamik, to complete a regional community service corridor study.
The move has support from the Chiefs of the First Nations in the four communities.
Green Party MP Bruce Hyer says that the move to put the road in that area is sound as it would follow the glacial esker that is almost like a road to the Ring of Fire.
Minister Gravelle says that doing it this way is important as the First Nations involvement and engagement in the project is key and critical to its long term success.
Equally important for the project is that business is voicing support.
“It is essential that benefits associated with mine development accrue to local communities in a way that will create long-term shared value,” states Noront President & CEO Alan Coutts. “This funding will help First Nation communities in the Ring of Fire benefit from construction of Noront’s East-West access road.
“Noront strives to be a leader in developing mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal communities. We’re eager to see infrastructure development progress not just because it will bring our mine into production, but so we can increase employment in the region as well. To date almost 400 Matawa First Nation community members have graduated from the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance program, and we’re are eager to see them take on meaningful jobs.”
The need for speed in the Ring of Fire is the only area where getting going faster appears to be one that is needed.
The Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance is an education project that Matawa First Nations, KNET, and Confederation College have partnered in, supported by the federal Government.. The program is working to train youth in the Matawa First Nations to be ready to work in the mining sector.
Without the project moving forward, those students who have been training are spending time waiting for work.
It is a large balancing act to ensure that the environmental, social, economic and cultural impact and implications of the project be looked at.
It is a part of getting it right.
The need for speed is also a part of getting it right. Mining companies depend on the funds from their investors to keep moving forward. If investors are not seeing a return on their investment, it is very easy for them to sell their shares and move on.
For the players in the Ring of Fire, Noront Resources and KWG Resources, timing is important.
For Noront, the company is working to move forward on the nickel in its Ring of Fire area claims.
Noront’s Eagle’s Nest project is the largest high-grade nickel discovery in Canada since Voisey’s Bay and the most advanced project in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario.
Federal Minister Greg Rickford and Ontario Minister Gravelle along with First Nations leaders appear headed in the right direction on this roadway study announcement.
Now it is a matter of timing to “Get it right”.