Wildlands League wants freeze on Ring of Fire development – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – October 17, 2013)

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

The Wildlands League is calling on the Ontario government to undertake a region-wide environmental assessment of lands in the Ring of Fire, rather than allow piecemeal assessments by companies that have staked claims in the area.

The environmental organization has published a 12-page newsletter, urging Ontarians to insist the provincial and federal governments not issue any more approvals to companies such as Cliffs Natural Resources, Noront Resources and KWG Resources until a thorough environmental assessment is complete.

It wants that assessment to include consultation with members of First Nations and other communities who will be impacted by mining in the Ring of Fire — and that includes Sudburians.

Cliffs Natural Resources has chosen the former Moose Mine site north of Capreol as the location for its $1.8-billion ferrochrome processing plant to process ore from its Black Thor deposit.

Anna Baggio, director of conservation land use planning for the Wildlands League, said her organization has received calls from residents in northeastern Ontario and elsewhere who are worried about the impact mining the rich chromite deposits will have on the environment.

The Wildlands League isn’t anti-development, said Baggio, but it wants the environmental assessment of the area done correctly.

The Ring of Fire and the area around it “goes beyond any single community, beyond any single watershed,” said Baggio. “We’re talking about a whole region.”

That’s why planning should be done on a region-wide basis. “What do we want it to look like? It can’t just be about mining, but transmission lines, healthy water and trapping areas.”

The league is calling on the province to show leadership so people with an interest in the Ring of Fire have a place to “put their visions together,” so everyone gets “a kick at that can,” said Baggio.

The Ring of Fire, 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay in the James Bay Low-lands, is an area 5,120 kilometres in size. Twenty-one companies hold 9,000 claims there. Two are developing mine plans and another is planning a mine and a railway corridor.

The value of its chromite, nickel, copper, zinc, gold and palladium deposits is $60 billion — and the area could be mined for a century.

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