Rail idea in Ring of Fire gathering steam – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – April 30, 2015)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – The City of Timmins this week gave its formal approval to the Mushkegowuk Council plan to create a new railway link from the James Bay coast to the Ring Of Fire mining development.

The issue was put forward in a resolution of support to be sent to the office of Premier Kathleen Wynne, to Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle and to the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA).

The support from Timmins is for an initiative first described in a Daily Press news story back in January when Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Lawrence Martin said there were plans in the works for Mushkegowuk to buy the Ontario Northland railway.

Martin revealed that a Toronto-based rail investment group, TGR Rail, had the funding in place if the province was ready to give the go-ahead for the purchase. Martin explained that a new rail line could be extended beyond the existing ONR line that runs from Cochrane to Moosonee.

The Timmins resolution said the creation of a new rail link would not only see new economic development and growth for First Nations, it would also put Timmins in a prime situation to serve Ring Of Fire mining companies. This would also create the possibility that ore from the huge mining region could be processed or refined in Timmins.

“This is an excellent resolution. It’s an excellent initiative by the First Nations,” said Coun. Pat Bamford.

He said a new rail link would open up a large part of the region and enable things like groceries and other goods and services to be shipped in a much more reasonable price.

“Whatever it costs in a partnership from the provincial government — let’s say a billion dollars — that will be multiplied anywhere from three to 10 times in the province of Ontario because all of the product that would go into building this rail, including the rail cars, could be built in the province of Ontario,” said Bamford.

He added the rail idea is an “incredible economic development scheme.”

He predicted that once the rail initiative is formally announced, it will send mining shares through the roof in such a way that development of the Ring Of Fire will be assured.

Bamford added that he can only hope the current government at Queen’s Park has the same foresight and vision that the province had back in the early 1900s when the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway was used to open up the North and spur development in communities such as Cobalt, Timmins, Cochrane and Kirkland Lake.

The Ring of Fire refers to a massive deposit of chromite and nickel, located in the McFauld’s Lake and Webequie area, about 600 kilometres northwest of Timmins. Chromite is an important mineral element in manufacturing stainless steel. The Ring of Fire area could become the largest chromite mining site in North America, a venture measured in the tens of billions of dollars.

The Mushkegowuk Council represents several Northeastern Ontario First Nations communities from Chapleau to the James Bay Coast. Mushkegowuk and the City of Timmins have a memorandum of understanding to support each other for economic development.

For the original version of this article, click here: http://www.timminspress.com/2015/04/30/rail-idea-in-ring-of-fire-gathering-steam