Tories would speed up development of Ring of Fire, says Tim Hudak – by Richard J. Brennan (Toronto Star – September 17, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Tory Leader Tim Hudak is promising to release northern Ontario from the shackles that have prevented it from reaching its economic potential.

Tory Leader Tim Hudak promises to release northern Ontario from provincial shackles that he says have prevented it from reaching its full economic potential. In his party’s latest policy paper, Hudak said a Progressive Conservative government would speed up development of the Ring of Fire — site of one of the world’s largest mineral deposits, which the plan likens to the riches of the Alberta oil sands or Saskatchewan’s potash.

“The Ring of Fire is the great mining discovery of a lifetime, but the project has gone nowhere. Our once-burgeoning forest industry has shrunk and mills have closed,” Hudak stated in the policy paper, which blames high electricity and energy costs for gutting the pulp and paper industry.

“I see a north of great destiny. A Northern Ontario that is going to drive renewed prosperity right across Ontario,” said Hudak, who released his party’s position on the north in Thunder Bay on Monday.

Chromite, one of the many minerals in the area, is used in the manufacture of stainless steel. That deposit alone is reported worth between $30 billion and $50 billion.

The Ring of Fire project hit a snag in July when the chromite deposit’s biggest private backer, U.S.-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., demanded more clarity on environmental assessments of the area north of Thunder Bay, and since then, there have been troubles over building a road into the region.

The 5,000-square-kilometre Ring of Fire, about 1,000 km northwest of Toronto and 300 km from the nearest railway line, is considered Ontario’s most promising mineral development opportunity in a 100 years.

Among other thing, the Tory plan calls for “balancing the needs of threatened and endangered species with the needs of people who earn their living off the land by ensuring environmental legislation adheres to science — not political motivation.”

The 26-page document says logging along the Namakan River in the northwest portion of Quetico Park is now off limits because of the Pygmy Snaketail Dragonfly has been classed as endangered even though “not a single specimen of this species has ever been spotted in Ontario.”

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