Chromite: ‘Go slow’ on Ring of Fire, say Greens – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – July 22, 2014)

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

A motion calling for responsible development of the Ring of Fire, passed at the Green Party of Canada’s biennial meeting in Fredericton, puts “the party in the game” and shows it has good ideas other parties might want to consider.

Sudbury’s Steve May attended the convention and was surprised to learn every person attending had heard about the rich chromite deposits 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay — whether they were from British Columbia or New Brunswick.

May has been thinking of the Ring of Fire as a regional issue, “but had I lived in Alberta in the early ’80s, I might have thought the development of the tar sands was a regional issue.

“We know it’s not,” he said of the Ring of Fire. “It’s a national project.”

Before delegates to the convention met, they agreed to put a motion on the weekend agenda calling for a five-pillar policy to develop the area. It addresses community benefits, energy, transportation, value-added industry and lifecycle planning for extracted resources.

To maximize the Ring of Fire’s economic potential for Canada, the Greens’ policy is calling for the creation of a working group to assess the feasibility of a value-added stainless steel industry as a requirement of development.

May said he hasn’t heard other political parties talk much about minimum standards to develop the Ring of Fire, but he has heard a lot of talk about “the minutiae of specific development projects” such as the best location for a road, the road versus rail debate and the location of a ferrochrome smelter.

“There needs to be a much broader regional planning exercise that’s undertaken,” said May, “and we believe that needs to be the starting point.”

Because the Ring of Fire is such a massive project, members felt it couldn’t be overlooked by the party and wanted to give candidates running in the 2015 federal election “something of substance from which to work.”

The party’s membership will vote on the motion within 90 days.

The Green Party isn’t against mining, said May, but it does believe in a “go slow” or “go right” approach to developing a massive project like the Ring of Fire.

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