OTTAWA - The federal government may struggle to keep up with a growing need for mental-health and other social services in First Nations communities l...
Cliffs will suspend indefinitely its Chromite Project in northern Ontario. It's time for all of us to take a deep breath and turn our attention to designing a thoughtful regional strategic environmental assessment so that the ecosystems in this area can be maintained, First Nations respected and industry can finally get the certainty it seeks.
Mining giant Cliffs Natural Resources' decision to halt work on the largest project in northern Ontario's Ring of Fire region has aroused a sudden interest in the lumbering development. The opposition at Queen's Park pounced to lay blame on the province for the squandered opportunity. While no one denies that Cliffs' move is a game changer, the looming question is whether it's a game ender. Fault will inevitably be assigned: was it that First Nations were "anti-development"? Was the province too slow or too unorganized to act? Or did the miner misjudge how quickly they could put a shovel in the ground? Any attempt to analyze what went wrong, and whether it can be put right, must go far beyond those surface level questions.
Currently, isolated First Nations depend on very expensive diesel fuel that must be supplied by trucks on winter roads or flown in. Amazingly, most of the swampy lowlands and many parts of the Canadian Shield throughout northern Ontario contain a source of energy that has been used for centuries in Europe -- peat fuel.
Approximately 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, in the James Bay Lowlands, sits an estimated $30-50 billion worth of untapped mineral resources. When developed, this exciting discovery will potentially transform the region, create thousands of jobs and enhance the future economic prosperity for Ontario. Realizing the full potential of the Ring of Fire is an extremely complex undertaking.
You've likely heard about the Ring of Fire boom in Ontario's Far North. What seemed a race to extract chromite, nickel and other minerals from beneath the pristine boreal forest and tundra appears to have slowed to a stroll. The slowdown creates an opportunity in the effort to protect the environment and the rights of First Nations.
Since joining Northern Superior Resources in 2002 as President and CEO, I have applied my strong belief that First Nations must be meaningfully consulted and actively engaged in exploration programs. To respect the traditional land uses of these communities is absolutely essential. At the same time, it is also very important for First Nation communities to understand what exploration is all about and the limitations of a junior mining company.
With multi-billion dollar projects adrift in the James Bay lowlands, really, is this how Ontarians want to see their future resources managed? With this outcome, the Ring of Fire now heads into the deep-freeze -- the last five years squandered -- the next five years now left to litigation lawyers to advance private interests.