Ring of Fire is little known, understood – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – September 13, 2013)

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

Much of Ontario’s future prosperity depends upon the success of developing the Ring of Fire, but many people in the province don’t know it. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is conducting a study to measure the economic benefit of mining the ring’s rich chromite deposits and to raise awareness outside the North about their tremendous potential.

In fact, some observers believe the Ring of Fire could be worth as much as $50 billion to Ontario and be mined for as long as a century.

In Sudbury, Cliffs Natural Resources has plans to open a chromite mine in the Ring of Fire area and ship the ore to a plant in Capreol for processing, creating up to 500 jobs. However, those plans are on hold as the company sorts through a number of political, infrastructure and environmental issues.

To get people talking about the Ring of Fire, the Ontario chamber, in conjunction with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, will hold a by-invitation-only round table in the city Oct. 9.

There it will seek business and community leaders “prescriptions” for how to move the project forward, says the senior policy adviser for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Many Ontarians, particularly those in the south, have never heard of the Ring of Fire, said Liam McGuinty. The study will help change that.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is “right on board with the most proper and appropriate development” of the area, said McGuinty, and it wants to move that forward.

The chromite deposits in the ring, about 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, were discovered in 2007, but bringing them into production has been a long and complicated process.

A similar round table held in Thunder Bay this week drew 22 people, all of those invited to participate in the forum.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce presented its initial findings to the Thunder Bay group — including its take on the economic benefits and barriers standing in the way of development — and sought answers to a number of questions.

The group asked community leaders about the economic benefits of the Ring of Fire, apart from the mining sector, and what they see as barriers to development.

Some of those barriers include infrastructure, “environmental considerations,” skills training and inclusion of First Nations in consultation and job creation, said McGuinty.

The first goal of the Ontario chamber is to demonstrate how big an opportunity the Ring of Fire presents to Ontario.

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