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Cliffs Natural Resources suspends investment in mining project.
A U.S. mining firm is pulling out of its $3.3 billion investment in Ontario’s northern Ring of Fire, saying they are unable to work with Queen’s Park on developing what is believed to be one of the world’s largest chromite discoveries.
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced late Wednesday that it is suspending its investment in the Ring — located more than 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay — because of a multitude of problems, including unresolved land claims, environmental assessment issues and a lack of government support for infrastructure and power needs.
“We need external factors involved before we can move forward,” said Pat Persico, Cliffs director of global communications, from the company’s Cleveland, Ohio, headquarters.
It is estimated that there is nearly $30 billion worth of chromite, a resource used to make stainless steel, deep under the mossy earth in the Ring. Developing this area has been an important pillar in both Ontario’s and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s economic agenda.
Cliffs estimated the company could have brought about 1,200 jobs to the remote, ecologically sensitive Ring by building a mine and a surface road and investing in a production facility outside of Sudbury.
Both the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and the NDP blasted the governing Liberals during question period on Thursday, accusing them of failing to execute development in the Ring and create thousands of new jobs.
“You and your ministers were warned by Cliffs. You have absolutely bungled this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s obvious you have absolutely no plan for the north,” chastised PC MPP Vic Fedeli (Nipissing).
And NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused the government of writing their jobs plan on “a back of an envelope”.
“The Premier promised that thousands of jobs were coming — those were her words — but, once again, when people desperate for work look beyond the press releases, they see a government without any plans, any details or, frankly, any idea what they are doing. The only jobs the Liberals seem to rally about and seem to really care about are their own jobs,” she said in the House.
Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle said the province needs the federal government at the table if the area is to be properly developed and they are waiting for that to happen.
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