No cash for new [Ring of Fire railroad] line – province – by PJ Wilson (North Bay Nugget – October 28, 2012)

The province doesn’t have the money to build a rail link connecting the Ontario Northland line to the Ring of Fire region, says to a spokeswoman for Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci.

Laura Blondeau said Friday neither she nor Bartolucci have seen anything from the General Chairperson’s Association about its proposal for a “new deal” to revitalize the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission which was announced last week.

“We have asked to see the proposal, and they have sent us the press release they issued and communications products, but we don’t really know the plan or how it will be implemented,” Blondeau said.

She said her office is looking to meet with them next week to discuss the proposal that would keep the ONTC alive, but stressed the province does not have the money to extend the track to the Ring of Fire, a remote area without rail lines, all-season roads, electricity or communications networks west of Moosonee.

The proposal was put forward by the GCA, which represents employees of the ONTC, which called for ownership of the Crown corporation to be transferred to a new ports authority which would be operated under the Canada Marine Act.

The new line, which would run from Nakina to Koper Lake, would be used to ship chromite, nickel and other minerals from the Ring of Fire, which is home to a major mineral exploration project.

Blondeau said, though, that it is up to the companies involved in the multi billion-dollar project to determine their transportation needs, and those plans would be subject to provincial approval.

A north-south transportation corridor from Nakina north to the Ring of Fire, she said, is what has been proposed by Cliffs Natural Resources, the major player in the project.

The province, Blondeau said, will evaluate that plan when it is presented.

The main attraction of the Ring of Fire is chromite, a mineral used in the manufacture of stainless steel. Cliffs’ Black Thor project, if developed, is expected to revolutionize the stainless steel industry in North America, which now relies on imports.

The entire Ring of Fire project would make Canada the world’s fourth-largest chromite producer.

Nipissing MP Jay Aspin was one of the proponents on hand last week to give his backing to the plan to revitalize the ONTC.
Thursday, Aspin told the House of Commons the plan will “create jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.

“It will improve the transportation infrastructure of Northern Ontario and be funded by the wealth extraction of the vast mineral resources of the Ring of Fire,” Aspin said, calling it a long-term solution for Northern Ontarians for the benefit of Northern Ontarians.

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