TORONTO – The finger-pointing has begun as governments and critics look to assign blame over a big mining company’s pullout from the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, a massive mineral-rich area believed to have the economic potential of Alberta’s oilsands.
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. is suspending its operations indefinitely, saying it couldn’t keep spending money while the question of whether it would be able to build an all-weather road to the remote site remained in doubt.
It’s a major setback for cash-strapped Ontario, which may not see the economic windfall the governing Liberals had promised anytime soon.
Greg Rickford, the federal Conservatives’ lead minister for the Ring of Fire, said he was surprised with the Cliffs decision, because the company was “very satisfied” with the federal government’s involvement in the project. But in some ways, it wasn’t that surprising, said the minister of state for FedNor, the economic development organization for northern Ontario.