Hot topics at Ring of Fire – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – March 12, 2012)

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

After getting back from his one-day trade mission to the Ring of Fire, Vic Fedeli remains optimistic about the area’s potential.

“I brought mining companies from North Bay in (on Friday),” the Nipissing MPP said. “(The companies saw) the challenges of exploration, and ultimately production, there, but they also saw the opportunity. That was the sole purpose of the trip, to really give North Bay companies a good upper hand in seeing the facility, seeing the sites and being able to come back and be in a position to offer assistance to a company in the Ring of Fire.”

Senior executives from First North Enterprises, Redpath, J.L. Richards, Stantec, GAP and Foraco accompanied Fedeli on the trade mission. This was Fedeli’s second visit to the Ring of Fire area — his first was last August. This time around, he said, it was easier to get to Esker Camp in the James Bay Lowlands, where they stayed and where Noront Resources Ltd. centres its exploration.

“When we went up in the summer, it was a lot more complicated because you had to fly to the town of Webequie and then take a float plane from there into Esker. And then from there you’d take a helicopter into the base camp. But in the winter, they plow a runway right on Koper Lake. So (we) were able to just fly right directly into Koper Lake, land and then chopper in to the base camp. It was a little more convenient and a much quicker trip, but truly a reminder that every single thing you need needs to be flown in.”

The Ring of Fire, which is about 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay, is located on First Nations homelands. There are more than 35,000 staked mining claims in the area, which holds chromite and precious minerals. Chromite is processed into ferrochrome, which is used to make stainless steel.

A hot topic during the mission, said Fedeli, was transportation.

“We had good discussions about rail or road. We had good discussions about a road that links the First Nations communities, and what that will do to benefit them on a social (level).”

He worries, though, that progress isn’t being made fast enough.

A few weeks ago, Fedeli said development of the Ring of Fire has been delayed to 2016 from 2015. He blamed the provincial government and its Ring of Fire co-ordinator, Christine Kaszycki, saying she told him at a North Bay conference that she has never been to the site.

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