Should Ontario Northland be the railroader for the Ring of Fire? – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – September 6, 2017)

Regional railway says it has the smarts, capability to serve James Bay mining camp

The Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) is ready to be a logistical player in the Ring of Fire, if and when an ore haul railroad is required.

Now that Queen’s Park has unveiled a road-building timetable to reach the Far North mineral deposits, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission president-CEO Corina Moore said the North Bay-headquartered Crown railroader has the ability to do the job.

“Ontario Northland remains interested in providing input on how we can provide rail support in the future with regards to the Ring of Fire,” said Moore in an email. She was responding to comments made by Noront Resources president-CEO Alan Coutts, who hinted that the ONR could serve as the exclusive railroader to the Ring.

“When the Ring of Fire chromite market grows to a level requiring rail, Ontario Northland has the experience, technology, and capabilities to safely operate and maintain the rail infrastructure,” replied Moore.

She said the commission has on occasion “highlighted our capabilities” to Noront, the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and organizations that may be involved in mine-related development.

“To me, that makes a lot of sense,” said Coutts, who added his company has been in discussion with the ONR, a provincial agency supported through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. “If you’re going to think about how you develop that corridor 20 years from now, maybe that’s the way to go.”

Building a north-south corridor would certainly be the most capital intensive and environmentally risky route since there are major rivers to cross. “I’ve talked to them quite a little bit,” said Coutts.

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