Ontario needs to follow the lead of Nunavut, where Inuit communities have benefitted from successful gold and iron ore mines.
It’s been 10 years since the world-class Ring of Fire mineral district was discovered in the isolated James Bay Lowlands, about 500 kms northeast of Thunder Bay. Not one mine has been built.
During those 10 years, the equally isolated territory of Nunavut has built two gold mines (Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank and TMAC Resources’ Doris) and one iron ore operation (Baffinland’s Mary River).
A fourth gold mine (Agnico Eagle) should be in production in 2019 — and Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. A junior exploration company with a very rich precious metal deposit has just been given continued development approvals by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
Noront Resources is the only significant company in the Ring of Fire with a potentially bankable mineral asset, their nickel/copper Eagle’s Nest deposit, as well as the owner of 75 per cent of the valuable staked claims in the region. The company also has plans to develop an adjacent chromite deposit using the Eagle’s Nest underground infrastructure and is currently looking for a suitable site in Northern Ontario to build a ferrochrome processing plant to supply the American market.
If the project moves forward, there will be many employment opportunities and infrastructure investments — though both levels of government have shamefully done very little to date — for the surrounding First Nations communities who live in impoverished Third World conditions and are experiencing one of the highest child suicide epidemics in the world.
None of this can happen unless a vital 280-km east-west road is built, that would also connect — through spur lines — the four isolated First Nations communities of Webequie, Nibinamik, Neskantaga and Eabametoong.
A road will bring many benefits, including lower costs for food, building material, diesel fuel and construction and maintenance jobs, as well as a necessary replacement for current ice roads that are losing their viability due to global warming.
For the rest of this opinion piece: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/01/mines-can-create-indigenous-middle-class-in-ring-of-fire-opinion.html