Feds say: Province needs to decide – road or rail – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – August 26, 2014)

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

The Ontario Government should stay focused on deciding on a transportation corridor to get to the Ring of Fire and reaching revenue agreements with first nations before worrying about striking deals with the federal government on infrastructure projects.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says the federal government is already involved in training and local infrastructure programs on first nations that will get people and communities ready when the area is opened to development.

Rickford is in Sudbury this week, attending the 2014 Energy and Mines Ministers Conference. Discussion is expected to focus frequently on developing the rich chromite deposits located 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has pledged $1 billion to build infrastructure in the Ring of Fire, and is seeking a matching commitment from the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Rickford has said, and he repeated it Monday in Sudbury, that the federal government has Build Canada Fund money available to share the cost of infrastructure, but only after the province makes decisions about what those specific projects will be.

The biggest decision yet to be made is whether the transportation corridor will be road or rail. That has been delayed by legal wrangling between two companies with large claims in the Ring of Fire, KWG Resources and Cliffs Natural Resources.

But Cliffs has essentially put its project in the Ring of Fire on hold for a variety of reasons.

Rickford said the Ring of Fire is a true legacy project, not just in terms of the decades of mining it will generate, but because of the infrastructure it will create for communities in the northwest.

“I’m quite confident, from the perspective of the federal government, that we’re already doing the right things — making investments in first nations communities, understanding some of the other … goals like hydro corridors, like road corridors, so that isolated communities can have road access to our future extraction sites and be fully integrated and employed in those activities.”

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