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The Ontario government will make an “important” announcement on the Ring of Fire mineral deposits on April 28. A press conference has been called for Monday at 10 a.m. at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines offices in Thunder Bay.
Minister Michael Gravelle, municipal affairs minister Bill Mauro and natural resources minister David Orazietti, along with staff from the province’s Ring of Fire Secretariat, will be in attendance.
Gravelle said March 27 in Sudbury that the province was prepared to make a “very significant” infrastructure investment in the Ring of Fire, but declined to give specifics. “Our commitment to a major investment is locked in. It’s real,” said Gravelle.
“We have not spoken about that figure specifically and I’m not in a position to do that right now.” On the same day, at the same time, the Ontario government will be appearing in a Toronto courtroom in on a legal matter concerning the Ring of Fire.
The government wants to weigh in an upcoming appeal launched by Cliffs Natural Resources to overturn a provincial tribunal’s decision that denied the Ohio miner overland access to its Ring of Fire mineral deposit atop another company’s claims.
The Ministry of the Attorney General is seeking permission at the Ontario Divisional Court level, through a motion for leave, to intervene in the appeal of the decision made by the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner released last September.
The Cliffs appeal hearing is scheduled for June 16 and 17.
The Ring of Fire file has been most troublesome for the Liberal government, particularly because of that tribunal’s decision that played a hand in Cliffs deciding to cease technical work on its $3.3-billion Black Thor mine and refinery project. The lack of a provincial infrastructure plan and the lack of an agreement with area First Nations were cited as major stumbling blocks for the company.
However, one of those issues appears to be resolved.
Last month, the government and the nine communities of the Matawa First Nations negotiated a regional framework agreement on how to move forward with mineral and community development in the Ring of Fire.
Premier Kathleen Wynne officially signed off on it yesterday in a special ceremony in Thunder Bay.
On the planning and development side, the province established a Ring of Fire development corporation last November to bring miners, First Nations, and a reluctant federal government to the table to kick-start momentum in the James Bay exploration camp.
But the government has contracted out the process to Deloitte Canada to organize the corporation and come up with a plan to build transportation infrastructure to the remote area, 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.
Deloitte’s marching orders are to set the timelines for making decisions, set the corporation’s guiding principles and “seek consensus” on next steps.