TORONTO — The planned development of Northern Ontario’s “Ring of Fire” mineral belt got a potential boost on Wednesday when an appeals court ruled that a small junior mining firm should not have exclusive access to a transportation corridor.
The decision opens the door to construction of a north-south road to the Ring, which is thought to contain about $60 billion of chromite and other minerals. The Ontario government supports a road, in part because it would link up with remote First Nations communities.
In 2009, a Toronto-based company called KWG Resources Inc. staked more than 200 mining claims going from the Ring of Fire all the way down to the CN rail line in Exton, Ont. Effectively, this gave KWG control over a crucial 340-kilometre access route to the mineral belt.
U.S. mining company Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. was keen to develop a road up to the Ring that would cross more than 100 of KWG’s claims. But its attempts to do so were thwarted.
In 2013, the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner rejected Cliffs’ request for an “easement” on KWG’s claims to build a road, saying it could negatively affect the claims.
However, a divisional court overturned that decision in 2014. And on Wednesday, the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld the divisional court’s ruling. That opens the door for a road.
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