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Ontario will keep the heat on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help develop the Ring of Fire, Premier Kathleen Wynne says
Ontario will keep the heat on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help get the northern Ring of Fire mineral belt into production following a setback last week, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday.
Her comments came after Harper seemed cool to federal support for the potential $60 billion project in a remote area 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay last week.
“The prime minister and his ministers have sung the praises of the opportunities in the Ring of Fire and I believe it’s incumbent upon them . . . to take part in the project and to be full partners,” Wynne told reporters. “They have been full partners in other projects across the country,” she added, referring to energy projects in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Harper took a hands-off approach Friday during a stop in Manitoba, just days after U.S.-based Cliffs Natural Resources suspended development of a mining and smelting plan that would have created 1,200 jobs.
The prime minister noted natural resources are under provincial jurisdiction and said “private companies themselves . . . have to make commitment decisions based on the viability of projects.”
Cliffs, the largest private-sector developer in the Ring of Fire, blamed slow progress on building roads, unresolved land claims and environmental assessments for its move.
It came two weeks after Wynne wrote Harper looking for a “substantial” financial contribution to the estimated $2 billion cost of building roads and mining infrastructure to open up the vast area, paving the way for mining companies.
The premier, who is heading to Ottawa on Dec. 5 and hopes to get a meeting with Harper, said she is not overly discouraged by his remarks last week.
“I’m not going to get caught up on one statement that was made on one particular day. I believe that it’s in the best interests of this country that the Ring of Fire be developed . . . there are deposits of minerals in the ring of fire that can be an economic boon for northern Ontario, for Ontario and in turn for the country,” Wynne said.
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