Movement on a Ring of Fire infrastructure plan should come “within weeks, not months,” Premier Kathleen Wynne told a gathering hosted by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. “I think we’ll find a way to move forward,” she said. “Nobody in the province wants a shovel in the ground more than I do.”
The premier was responding to a question from a Laurentian Mining Innovation and Technology representative, who pointed out promising times lie ahead for the industry.
“Mining is a very cyclical sector and we’re heading into a boom now,” he said. “But mining does need some support and there’s an amazing opportunity for us, with $60 billion in the Ring of Fire that’s locked up.”
Wynne said her government has been busily negotiating with the Matawa First Nations on a regional framework agreement, noting she personally met with the Cree and Ojibwe leadership as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s very much my commitment and belief that we are better off if communities that are in the region can benefit and be part of that economic development,” she said.
The government has already made investments in training and social supports for the remote communities, she said, but cannot wait indefinitely for an agreement on a transportation route for ore.
“What I said to the Matawa First Nations now is that we need to come to some consensus, because we need to get infrastructure built,” she said. “If a consensus isn’t possible, we need to start working with communities that want to work with us and get some of that building done.”
Opposition parties and others frustrated by the slow pace of Ring development raised concerns earlier this year about the project not being explicitly mentioned in the latest provincial budget, but the premier insists it remains a priority.
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