First Nation Chief plans China trip to discuss Ring of Fire rail line – by Bill Curry (Globe and Mail – April 29, 2017)

OTTAWA — Bruce Achneepineskum is heading to China next month to hear about a $4-billion plan that includes building a rail line to the Ring of Fire through his community’s traditional territory.

The Chief of Marten Falls First Nation, a remote fly-in community of 770 registered people of which only about half live on the remote Northern Ontario reserve, says he’s interested in the latest overture from a small mining company with big plans.

KWG Resources Inc. announced this week that it is working with Marten Falls First Nation on an equal partnership to develop the Ring of Fire’s chromite deposits, which are used to make stainless steel. China is the world’s leading producer of stainless steel and the company hopes that Chinese investors will be willing to finance the $4-billion rail line and mining project in order to secure a long-term, reliable source of chromite.

The company has organized a trip to China next month so that First Nation leaders in the region can learn more about the potential project.

“I’m looking forward to getting there,” Mr. Achneepineskum said in an interview. “If the doors are open for China to do business in Ontario, then we’re supportive. I don’t think it matters where the money comes from. It just matters that it’s there to finance these projects.”

Mr. Achneepineskum said his community will have the final say on whether to move ahead with development, but added it could bring jobs and training opportunities.

Engineers from China Railway First Survey & Design visited the region in 2016 to conduct a feasibility study. Mr. Achneepineskum and other First Nation leaders from the region are expected to join KWG officials on a trip to China in mid-May to meet with the team that worked on the survey, as well as other Chinese officials.

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