Groups ask for pause to Ring of Fire work until plans in place for clean water, peatlands – by Carl Meyer (National Observer – March 2, 2021)

A coalition of Indigenous and environmental organizations is calling on the Canadian and Ontario governments to impose an “immediate moratorium” on all mineral exploration or impact assessment work related to the Ring of Fire region.

A dozen organizations, including the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and the Omushkegowuk Women’s Water Council (OWWC), have penned an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and provincial leaders asking for the pause.

Ontario’s Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines believes the Ring of Fire region in the province’s north has valuable deposits of several minerals, including chromite, which can be used to make stainless steel. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has labelled it a “multibillion-dollar opportunity.”

Yet there have been persistent questions over its true potential and concerns over the risk that a rush into a mining boom will end up trampling Indigenous rights and damaging the sensitive local environment.

Ancient peatlands, or muskeg, in the region cover over 325,000 square kilometres, representing roughly 26 gigatons of carbon. Environment and Climate Change Canada has said the wetlands in the region “include extensive, globally significant peatlands.”

For the rest of this article: