The Ring of Fire, northern Ontario’s massive chromite mining and smelting development project, continues to face delays due to challenges like the lack of road access and negotiations with First Nations communities.
Premier Doug Ford has said that the mine is “critical for (his) administration,” but without a rail corridor or smelting capabilities, the extensive chromite deposits in the James Bay Lowlands will stay stranded underground, in the middle of nowhere.
“It’s inaccessible for all practical purposes, except by air, and to sell chrome you’ve got to get it to its steel mills of the world,” said Frank Smeenk, CEO of KWG Resources and one of six mining execs and geologists who located the original cache.
Discovered in 2007 and 2008, word of this chromite motherlode fuelled investment in the Ring of Fire, peaking about a decade ago, after U.S. steel giant Cliffs accepted Smeenk’s invitation to buy a 20 percent stake in KWG.
In the wake of protest and protracted negotiations between nine disaffected Matawa First Nations, and an eventual falling out with Smeenk and KWG, Cliffs shelved plans for a $3.3 billion mine in 2013.
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