Participants in a consultation forum earlier this week took the opportunity to criticize the Ontario government for focusing its efforts on the Ring of Fire – a chromite-rich development project in the James Bay Lowlands northern Ontario – and overlook other mining projects that would be easier to access than the remote Ring of Fire, which lacks key mining infrastructure.
âThe provincial government does not tacitly acknowledge that it believes in mining,â said Gino Chitaroni, president of the Northern Prospectors Association, in a statement. article published Friday in Northern Ontario Business. âAll we hear about is the Ring of Fire. Let me explain something about the Ring of Fire, it’s not the only thing happening in this province. I’m sick of it.
Chitaroni told industry players at the session, hosted by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, that “he could think of eight to ten mining projects in eastern Ontario alone that would be viable with some investment and much easier to access than remote areas. Ring of Fire, âaccording to Northern Ontario Business.
âWe have a lot of projects that could be economical very soon, but we have to encourage them,â said Chitaroni. “I don’t see it coming.”
Stakeholders want certainty in terms of infrastructure and electricity costs. Ontario has been criticized for having higher electricity rates than neighboring Manitoba and Quebec, making it less competitive for producers.
In 2014, Ontario ranked 23rd in the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mining companies, dropping nine places from the 2013 survey. More than two provinces, Saskatchewan has been ranked the world’s best mining destination.
“In Ontario, changes to the new Mining Act regarding consultation with First Nations have resulted in a complete incomprehension of rights on all sides,” said Kenneth Green, senior director of energy and natural resources at the Fraser Institute, when the report was released earlier this month.
The Ring of Fire in particular was a disaster for Ontario in terms of industry perception. On March 12, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce ranked the Ring of Fire and the results weren’t pretty.
The Northern Ontario infrastructure project received two Fs, one for development time and one for federal commitment. The highest score was a B- for drawing as much as possible from the local workforce and developing the skills of First Nations communities in northern Ontario.
âDespite its great potential, we are no closer today than a year ago to realizing the benefits of the Ring of Fire,â write the authors of the report.
“After a year of delay, public and expert perception of the Ring of Fire’s viability as a sound economic investment has deteriorated.”
The authors tout the project saying that the Ring of Fire would generate up to $ 9.4 billion in GDP, maintain up to 5,500 jobs per year and generate $ 2 billion in government revenue, split among federal governments, provincial and municipal.
The Ring of Fire project was suffered a major setback when Cliffs Natural Resources withdrew of Ontario operations in 2014.