Old-growth area draws [mining/environmental] interest – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – December 14, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

“As soon as they put the word balance on you, balance means
you’re going to get screwed … Balance means southern
Ontario rules, and let’s keep Northern Ontario pristine.
It’s hopeless. We’ve already lost so much of our land.”
(Gordon Salo, President Sudbury Prospectors and Developers

Environmentalists want to preserve it.  Miners and prospectors want to explore it. But members of both groups agree on one thing. The government isn’t doing enough to help them get what they want.

The provincial government wants to remove protections from an environmental jewel — an old-growth forest about 50 kilometres northeast of Sudbury — to open it up for further mining exploration.

Wolf Lake, a hiking and canoeing paradise in the Temagami region, has long been designated a forest reser ve by the government, which now wants to change 340 hectares around the area to be for “general use.” The Wolf Lake forest reserve was put into place in 1999, said Michael Gravelle, minister of natural resources.

“The definition of forest reserve is an area that permits mineral exploration and develo p m e nt, but doesn’t allow other industrial uses,” Gravelle said. “The intention of the forest reserve is that as mineral claims or tenure lapses … those areas can be added to protected areas.”

Currently, the Wolf Lake region consists of around 4,000 hectares of land. Under the government’s proposal, more than 2,000 hectares will be added to the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park.

“(This) would erode protection for the old-growth forest,” said Alex Broadbent, a member of Friends of Temagami.

“Friends of Temagami (recognizes) that the plan allows for an additional number of hectares to be added to the north, but we don’t feel this a fair trade or a recognizable trade of value, considering the old-growth forests around Wolf Lake.”

“(Gord Miller), the environm e nt a l commissioner of Ontario, very rightly pointed out once the area is reverted back to a general-use area, mining is allowed to continue,” said Mike McIntosh, another Friends of Temagami member.

“Although early suggestions are forestry won’t be permitted within what is now forest reserve, (Miller) points out that that is a very attractive stand of timber that’s a very close distance to Sudbury.”

“Even though the current government may suggest that they won’t harvest in that area, in the future, without the protection of a provincial park, that timber is essentially up for harvest.”

The only company holding mining leases in Wolf Lake is Flag Resources, a Calgary-based company that was delisted from the TSX Venture Exchange in 2005. In 2006, the company was told to stop trading on Alberta and British Columbia exchanges, as well, a Toronto newspaper reported.

Flag Resources’ Murdo McLeod told the paper there is potential for gold, copper, cobalt and palladium mines in Wolf Lake, where the company’s been since the 1980s. Last spring, one of Flag Resources’ mining leases was renewed until 2031, with a second 21-year lease up for renewal in May 2012.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3404276