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TORONTO AND OTTAWA— Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is pledging to work closely with the federal government on its controversial overhaul of environmental assessments as he calls on Ottawa to play an active role in exploiting the untapped potential of the Ring of Fire.
Mr. McGuinty is counting on mining exploration in the northern wilderness to lead to a new generation of prosperity for Ontario. Emerging economies in India and China have an “insatiable hunger” for the province’s resource riches, he said on Friday in urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help him open up the North.
“Failure is not an option,” Mr. McGuinty told reporters. “Success is mandatory.”
The mining exploration area in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario is one of the most significant mineral regions in the province, and includes the largest deposit of chromite ever discovered in North America.
Exploiting the Ring of Fire is in the national interest, Mr. McGuinty said in a letter to Mr. Harper, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail. The vast tract of land about 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay represents a strategic economic opportunity for Canada and has the potential to rival Alberta’s oil sands, the letter says.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver pledged on Friday to work with the province to “unlock” billions of dollars in economic activity and create jobs in Northern Ontario with the help of his government’s proposed streamlined approach to environmental reviews.
“Mining and forestry have been the bedrocks of the Northern Ontario economy for more than a century,” Mr. Oliver said in an e-mail response to The Globe. “Our government recognizes the importance of the mining industry and the significant role it plays in providing good jobs for Canadians.”
Mr. McGuinty is calling on Ottawa to invest in first nations communities in the Ring of Fire area to develop a healthy and skilled work force that can participate in mining projects.
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