Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has come under harsh, across-the-board, criticism by the provincial auditor general for its ineffectiveness and inaction in making any progress in the Ring of Fire and in promoting Ontario’s mineral resources.
The auditor general’s annual review of the government’s mines and minerals program found a ministry that has fallen short in encouraging mineral development, ensuring regulatory compliance, and supporting sustainable and responsible exploration.
Ontario’s mining industry comprises almost a quarter of Canada’s total mineral production, worth almost $11 billion in 2014.
But exploration spending has dropped precipitously from a high of more than $1 billion in 2011 to $507 million in 2014. The number of active mining claims in 2014 was 235,000 units, a decline of 363,000 units in 2008.
While the Ontario government attributes the slow-down in exploration to the drop in global mineral commodity prices, the auditor general determined that the ministry “has not been effective in encouraging timely mineral development in the province.”
While the provincial government once described the Ring of Fire chromite discoveries in 2008 as the “discovery of the century,” an opportunity which could provide multi-generational employment opportunities with considerable wealth generation for the province and country, the auditor general found no evidence of a “detailed plan or timeline for developing the region.”
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