The federal and provincial governments announced on the weekend that more than three-quarters of a million dollars will be spent on a study for a new road in Northern Ontario.
The announcement was made Sunday at the annual Prospector’s and Developers Convention (PDAC) in Toronto. Federal Natural Resources minister Greg Rickford and provincial Northern Development and Mines minister Michael Gravelle said their governments are contributing 50-50 to a $785,000 expenditure through the FedNor Northern Ontario Development Program.
The money is for a joint venture to study the idea of building a road into the lucrative Ring Of Fire mining prospect.
“The study will examine the benefits of developing an all-season transportation corridor connecting First Nation communities in the area with existing roadways, enabling them to capitalize on opportunities related to resource development in the region,” said the joint news release.
Reaction to the announcement is generally good, but there doesn’t appear to be a lot of overwhelming excitement, based on comments from from at least two Northern leaders. “The word I am hearing is, there’s the announcement and some people are saying, what, another study?” said Lawrence Martin, the Grand Chief of the Mushkegowuk Council.
Martin said he sees this as giving his organization some breathing room to lobby for their own transportation link, a railroad pushing north and west from Moosonee.
“What I am saying to my chiefs is this is good because it gives us more time to be able to plan together all these other Mushkegowuk ideas we have on the table with the Matawa people,” he said Monday from the PDAC convention in Toronto.
There was similar reaction from Timmins Mayor Steve Black, also at the PDAC convention, who said he was pleased to see both levels of government coming together in agreement.
“But is still just another study and not a whole lot of action that moves the project forward to a significant degree,” said Black. “It is a good first step to actually see the parties working together instead of firing comments back and forth across the table.”
The Ring Of Fire project is a mining development located about 600 kilometres northwest of Timmins, in the remote McFaulds Lake area. The prospect is identified mainly as a chromite project, valued in the tens of billions of dollars. So far, none of the three significant mining companies involved has moved forward with any sort of a mining operation.
Noront Resources, KWG Resources Inc. (both Canadian) and Cliff’s Natural Resources Inc.(American) are the major players in the region. Cliff’s is in the process of trying to sell off its prospect, while Noront and KWG continue to plan for the day when they can begin development work.
MARTIN IS OPTIMISTIC
Despite this, grand chief Martin said he remains optimistic about Mushkegowuk working out an agreement with Matawa Council to have build a high-voltage electrical energy line into the Ring Of Fire. Matawa is the First Nations group claiming territorial jurisdiction over the Ring Of Fire lands.
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