TORONTO – MINING – The Ontario government has given the green light to the Terms of Reference submitted by Webequie First Nation and Marten Falls First Nation for the construction of an all-season, multi-use road linking to the proposed Ring of Fire mining development area. The Northern Road Link, which will connect the two First Nations communities and the Ring of Fire’s critical mineral deposits to the Ontario highway network, aims to secure a supply chain for electric vehicle manufacturing in Ontario.
Chief Achneepineskum, Marten Falls First Nation states, “ToR approval has been several years in the making but taking the time to do it right has been worthwhile. It has been a tremendous amount of work to develop a comprehensive and community-led framework to guide the environmental assessment. Today’s approval follows two-years of consultation with neighbouring Indigenous communities, the public, government agencies and other interested parties, on all components of the environmental assessment. Our First Nations are grateful to community members for their participation and direction, our advisors, and everyone who has participated in this planning work. We look forward to continued engagement and input as the environmental assessment activities advance.”
The announcement was made at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto. Ontario Minister of Mines George Pirie expressed his gratitude to the two First Nations communities for leading the Environmental Assessment of the critical road corridor, noting that the Ring of Fire has the essential minerals needed to develop a manufacturing supply chain for electric vehicles and clean steel.
Chief Wabasse, Webequie First Nation states, “The Northern Road Link has the potential to become a critical transportation linkage for remote First Nations in Ontario but these opportunities must also be balanced against the potential environmental and socio-cultural risks associated with building a road. Our Indigenous-led approach has been designed to study the project’s potential impacts and effects, as well as alternatives and possible mitigations, and most importantly, to allow First Nations people to make informed decisions about the future development of their traditional lands.”
To support the infrastructure in the Ring of Fire area, Ontario has set aside almost $1 billion for constructing all-season roads, high-speed internet, road upgrades, and community supports. As part of a historic partnership with the province, Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations will co-lead the planning of the Northern Road Link project, which will connect the Ring of Fire’s critical mineral deposits with manufacturing hubs in the south, paving the way for made-in-Ontario supply chains for batteries and electric vehicles.
Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks David Piccini lauded the approval of the Terms of Reference as an important first step in the environmental process that would allow the construction of critical transportation infrastructure.
“The Ontario government has approved the Terms of Reference as submitted by Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations which is an important first step in the environmental process that will enable critical transportation infrastructure to be built,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Tomorrow’s clean, green jobs depend on meaningful partnerships we’ve built with First Nations communities and our government looks forward to continuing to work closely with them to unlock this immense potential in the north while ensuring strong environmental protections remain in place.”
Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford added that the partnership between the government and Indigenous communities presents a tremendous opportunity to supply energy, leverage health, economic, and social benefits, and unlock significant economic growth in the north.
“Today’s approval of the Terms of Reference for the Northern Road Link Environmental Assessment is an important step towards unlocking the corridor to prosperity,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Working with Indigenous partners, we have a tremendous opportunity for a corridor that can supply energy and leverage health, economic and social benefits, while unlocking significant economic growth.”
At the PDAC convention, the Ontario government also announced the recipients of the Critical Minerals Innovation Fund, a $5 million fund supporting Ontario-based companies developing new mining technologies to build critical mineral supply chains. The funding will aid Frontier Lithium Inc., Vale Canada Ltd., Ring of Fire Metals Pty Ltd., EV Nickel Inc., and Carbonix Inc. in ground-breaking work to address supply chain challenges in exploration, mining, and processing. Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, underscored the critical role played by the critical minerals sector in Ontario’s end-to-end supply chain, noting that the fund would help connect the north’s critical minerals with the manufacturing might of the south, enhancing the province’s competitive advantage and cementing its position as a global leader in the mining sector.