Prospectors Oppose Far North Act (Bill 191) – More Northern Consultation Needed – by Frank P. Tagliamonte

Frank P. Tagliamonte is a North Bay-based geologist and prospector.

For an extensive list of articles on this mineral discovery, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

The McGuinty government has recently passed legislation, the Far North Act – Bill 191, that will be detrimental for all the citizens of Ontario, especially the North.

Briefly , this act has been initiated and promoted by an environmental lobby group and embraced by the McGuinty government without meaningful consultation with First Nations and the citizens of Ontario, particularly Northerners. It has been rejected by most mayors of Northern Ontario communities and when its impact is fully understood , will likely be opposed by cities and towns in the South as well.

This Act will prohibit all natural resource development, mining, timbering and hydro projects,  in a vast land mass comprising some 250,000 acres in Northern Ontario – not Southern Ontario.

Can Ontario realistically abandon potentially rich and vast resource areas that will provide employment, especially for First Nation communities, mineral riches and abundant tax revenues to a deeply indebted Province?

This land mass overlies the mineral-rich Canadian Shield with the potential to host world-class mining camps such as Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Sudbury and Red Lake.

Already a diamond mine is in production, producing world-quality diamonds within the soon to be “off-limits area.” Rich deposits of chromite, copper and nickel have recently been discovered in a small part of this vast area known as the Ring of Fire – one of the most important new mining camps in Canada. There is enormous potential for many more discoveries in the years ahead.

Can Ontario realistically abandon potentially rich and vast resource areas that will provide employment, especially for First Nation communities, mineral riches and abundant tax revenues to a deeply indebted Province?  Provincial mining revenues have certainly increased in importance as the South’s manufacturing sectors have still not recovered from the worst recession since the depression.
The Ontario Prospectors Association opposes the proposed draconian provisions of Bill 19l in recognition of the detrimental effects this act will impose on mineral resource prospectors and the citizens of Ontario.

The impetus for this heavy handed legislation is founded on the premise of restriction and prohibition and protection of the landscape, namely a vast park – about the size of Britain – championed by environmental advocates supported by McGuinty and some elements in the bureaucracy. No meaningful in-depth consultation has been provided with the citizenry at large.

Modern resource developers abide by strict government-imposed regulations and self- imposed guidelines ensuring that development is conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Once mining operations cease, government monitored closure plans ensure that the landscape is restored to its natural or near natural state. Over the past few decades, many examples abound including the uranium mines at Elliot Lake. The hysteria that sometimes emanated from militant environmentalist and NGOs are unfounded by the evidence of sound landscape science.

Respect for the landscape and environmental responsibility are some of the pillars embraced by the mining sector and is championed by the Ontario Prospectors Association and its members.
Ontario prospectors are known around the world for their insight and sustainable mining practices. In Ontario’s Far North, if left unconstrained by access restrictions and crippling regulation, they can be on the threshold of many major resource discoveries that will greatly benefit local Aboriginal communities, the northern economy and southern businesses.

Bill 191 requires a serious, in-depth reassessment and scientifically supported changes with the active participation by all segments of Ontario society as equal partners. The North’s enormous mineral potential can enhance and contribute to a rich and prosperous Ontario – for all its citizens, especially at a time when the southern manufacturing economy may be slow for many years to come.

Frank P. Tagliamonte
27 September 2010