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The real Ring of Fire wealth sits untouched at Queen’s Park.
Experts say there are untold riches in the Ring of Fire but the real pot of gold sits untouched at Queen’s Park.
Not a dime of the $1 billion the provincial government has set aside to develop the mineral-rich area in northwestern Ontario has been spent. And it may not for a few years yet.
Last summer, Premier Kathleen Wynne made Ring of Fire development a central part of her election platform. However, the money is not officially booked until 2018-19, which is after the next provincial election.
“There is nothing preventing this provincial government to start building those roads to those communities and electrifying them . . . the government is in the driver’s seat here,” NDP MPP Michael Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin) said.
Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said developing the Ring of Fire is a long-term venture, not a quick fix. He said the interests of First Nations communities in the region, environmental concerns and the needs of developers all have to be balanced off.
“First of all, our $1-billion commitment to transportation and infrastructure in the Ring of Fire is rock solid. And yes, while the budget indicates that it is booked on an estimated basis for 2018-19, the timelines are very much flexible should the project move forward,” Gravelle told the Star.
“That’s not to say we aren’t working as hard as we can to move the project forward,” he said, adding while the $1 billion hasn’t touched, millions in provincial money has been spent in the Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is a region about 400 km northeast of Thunder Bay. It is estimated there is $60 billion worth of valuable minerals, including base metals, platinum and palladium, along with North America’s largest deposit of chromite, which is used to make stainless steel.
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