[Northern Ontario’s] Ring of hype? – by Jamie Smith (tbnewswatch.com – December 6, 2013)


People in the region can learn from Public Enemy when it comes to development in the Ring of Fire a mining watchdog says — “don’t believe the hype.”

Long lauded as the next oil sands and an economic saviour to Northwestern Ontario, MiningWatch Canada’s Ramsey Hart said people need to rein in their expectations when it comes to the area. A remote location with no infrastructure is a tough sell right now for companies looking for investors.

“Don’t believe the hype in a sense that there may be viable projects there, but it’s really far from a market though for that product,” he said Friday morning during the second day of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration conference at Lakehead University.

“That makes these projects on the periphery of attractiveness for investment.” If the day comes when development does happen, it probably won’t meet the expectations of politicians, industry and others who have promoted it for so long.

“I think we need to be modest in our expectation of what it will do,” he said. “They should ratchet down the rhetoric I think a little bit and people should approach the rhetoric with a bit of scepticism.”

Then there are the environmental and financial concerns Hart has, which have existed in a policy vacuum so far he said. After a ten year tax holiday in Ontario, remote mines then pay half of the rate other mines do. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for revenue sharing.

“To the degree that we can count on any kind of generation of taxes from the mining tax from these projects is very circumspect,” he said.

While MiningWatch might not influence the government on its own, Hart said reaching a consensus with First Nations, industry and others might, which is exactly what CESME wants to do. The conference is hoping to take its two-day conference and draft recommendations for government policy. CESME’s Peggy Smith said there were a lot of perspectives to take in.
“I think we’ve covered a range of issues, I’m a little overwhelmed myself,” she said.

It’s part of a broad public debate that’s needed on how policy can help the government make mining sustainable. There’s no timeline for the draft proposal.

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