First Hand Look [First Nations and Ring of Fire] – by Jeff Labine ( – June 9, 2012)

Having lost the ferrochrome smelter, Eli Moonias says he wants to visit other chromite mines around the world before he gives the go ahead to the Ring of Fire.

The chief of Marten Falls First Nation fought hard to try to bring the Cliffs Natural Resources ferrochrome smelter to Northern Ontario. He said having the smelter in Greenstone would mean an electrical grid could have been established for the region giving not only his community but also everyone in the region a reason to switch from expensive diesel fuel.

Ultimately, Cliffs chose to have the smelter build in a town near Sudbury. With it being years before Marten Falls could see any benefits from the Ring of Fire development, Moonias said he wants a firsthand look at chromite mining projects that are happening around the world to see the benefits of the mine.

“I told the government that I wanted to see the land in Finland or South Africa or in Turkey or Kazakhstan,” Moonias said. “That’s where the existing chromite mines are. I want to see them firsthand. I want to see people, meet them, ask what their experiences are before I say go right ahead here in our area.”

“I don’t know if I`ll be able to do that and if they will finance me to go there to see those sites.”

Moonias said he wants to make sure his community improves and will do everything he can to make that happen.
In order to do business with both the federal and provincial governments, Moonias said he would like to discuss a framework so that everyone’s interests are looked after.

He said he’s concerned about what benefits his community will get now that the smelter has gone somewhere else. Although creating jobs is a high priority, Moonias said protecting the environment is also a big concern and wants environmental assessments completed.

“Let’s just say we get a dollar for a project,” he said. “What are we giving up for that dollar or a million? Right now I haven’t considered saying no to the mining companies or at least not yet. We want to see this framework. I don’t know what it will be like because it is just words on paper. We need our negotiator to work on it and find out what they are talking about.”

He added that they are also looking at a joint panel process with the Ontario government when working on project developments.