Ontario Government investment in skills training for Ring of Fire is welcome

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

The provincial government’s recent announcement of a $3.1 million investment to provide skills training and community governance and capacity building in six First Nations communities is welcome news. This investment will facilitate the participation of First Nations residents in Ring of Fire developments.

Training and development will include the areas of heavy equipment operation, pre-employment trades training and general educational development preparation. The six First Nations that will benefit from this investment include Webequie, Marten Falls, Eabametoong, Aroland, Neskantaga and Nibinamik.

“The Ontario Mining Association has been a long-time supporter of education and skills training in First Nations communities,” said OMA President Chris Hodgson. “According to a recent economic impact study by the University of Toronto Mining: Dynamic and Dependable for Ontario’s Future, Aboriginals comprise 9.7% of the industry’s workforce. This investment by government will better position First Nations residents to take advantage of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, which will arise as the Ring of Fire is developed.”

“Our government is continuing to invest in Ring of Fire communities to ensure they benefit fully from proposed mineral developments,” said Rick Bartolucci, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines. “Investments like this one help Ontario deliver on its commitment to develop meaningful social and economic supports for Ring of Fire communities, which will help drive growth, promote jobs and skills training opportunities and improve quality of life now and in the future.”

“The projects and partnerships are part of the initial stage of building capacity in the First Nations that are situated in the Ring of Fire,” said Grand Chief Harvey Yesno, Nishnawbe Aski Nation. “As development occurs across the Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory, we will need continued investment and support from government as our treaty partners to grow the First National economy in the remote north and benefits that will be shared across the entire region.”

As well as being mining specific, training programs also include related and integral activities such as water and wastewater management, wildlife monitoring, environmental monitoring related to mine development, media relations and support services for mining.

The Ring of Fire is located about 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and it covers an area of about 5,000 square kilometres. It represents one of the most significant mineral deposits discovered in Ontario in over a century with multi-generational mineral production opportunities.

To date, mining companies have discovered deposits of chromite, nickel, gold, iron and platinum group metals. The most advanced projects in the Ring of Fire at this time are OMA member Cliffs Natural Resources Black Thor chromite project and OMA member Noront’s Eagle’s Nest nickel project.

Mining is the largest private sector employer in Canada. Aboriginals account for 3.8% of Canada’s population and they are 7.5% of mining industry workforce nationally. A full version of Mining: Dynamic and Dependable for Ontario’s Future, which can be downloaded, can be found on the OMA website www.oma.on.ca.