Recommendations due any day from four first nations involved in the community corridor study will “inform” decisions the province will make about a transportation route to the Ring of Fire.
The $785,000 study is being led by Webequie First Nation, in partnership with Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Nibinamik First Nations. It is being funded by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and Natural Resources Canada.
Among other issues, the study was to look at the cost and viability of moving ore and people by both freight and road in the chromite-rich area about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said Wednesday the study will look at the best way to access ore deposits.
The study, which was announced in February 2015, was to be completed in March of this year, but the group conducting it was given a three-month extension.
It was expected to be wrapped up by the end of June, Gravelle said Wednesday after a funding announcement about another issue at Laurentian University.
“I recognize people tend to be impatient about the project moving forward,” said Gravelle of the Ring of Fire. “The fact is, ultimately it will be the markets that will decide” when that happens.
Still, his government recognizes that building infrastructure is crucial to gaining access to the chromite and other mineral deposits. Gravelle said the study recommendations will have an impact on “east-west routing,” something that should have a positive impact on Noront Resources’ Eagle Nest project.
Noront officials have said they favour an east-west road, essentially an expansion of a winter road that now exists in the area.
Discussions continue about a north-south road, said Gravelle, and the province is committed to building a road into Marten Falls from the Ring area.
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