Progress or peril? First Nations in the Ring of Fire divided on infrastructure – and the mining development it would attract – by Alisha Hiyate (Canadian Mining Journal –  March 19, 2022)

Marten Falls Chief Bruce Achneepineskum is eager to start work on a 200-km permanent, all-season road to his remote, fly-in First Nations community in the James Bay Lowlands, about 170 km northeast of Nakina.

Achneepineskum says the road, which would link to forestry roads near the Aroland First Nation near Nakina, would be a “lifeline into the community,” making the shipment of fuel, building materials, food and other essentials more affordable, and allowing community members to travel more freely. An all-season road is also becoming a more urgent necessity as the winter ice road seasons become shorter and less reliable because of climate change.

The road would bring new, permanent infrastructure closer to the Ring of Fire – still about 120 km to the north. But in a best-case scenario, it will still be close to a decade before the road could be completed.

An environmental assessment (EA) is under way; assuming it is approved, an engineering study will still need to be completed. And according to the project description, construction would take at least three years – but could take as long as 10, depending on the terms of funding. While planning and design work began in 2018 with the initial project description submitted in 2019, the permitting schedule has been slowed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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