Ontario is taking an important next step toward developing the Ring of Fire, working with Webequie, Marten Falls and Nibinamik First Nations to plan and construct a year-round access road into the proposed mining development site being pursued by Noront Resources Ltd. As part of this project, the province is also working with First Nations to build all-season access roads to their communities.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle announced that Ontario will support First Nations to plan and construct an east-west road connecting the Webequie and Nibinamik communities to the provincial highway network north of Pickle Lake. This project would provide all-season access to both First Nations communities as well as into the Ring of Fire development.
“The entire Ring of Fire region has huge potential for development that would benefit all of the communities involved and the entire province—creating new jobs and improving the quality of life for people in the North,” said Kathleen Wynne, premier of Ontario. “Getting shovels in the ground to build this connection to the Ring of Fire will move us forward towards unlocking its full potential.”
The province is also supporting Marten Falls First Nation to plan and construct an access road connecting the community to the existing provincial highway network at Aroland/Nakina.
“Today’s announcement is a new beginning and we will continue to work with Ontario on the commitment to undertake further study toward developing our vision of a North-South industrial corridor that transverses a majority of Marten Falls territory as part of the long term development of the Ring of Fire,” said Bruce Achneepineskum, chief of the Marten Falls First Nation. “This is a very significant opportunity for Marten Falls, the North-South region and for the province. We must make the most of it.”
Communities are working to begin environmental assessments of these projects by January 2018 and plan to begin construction in 2019, pending all necessary approvals.
As a next phase, Ontario will continue to support Marten Falls to undertake further technical and environmental studies that could inform planning and development of a north-south access road tied to the development of, and business case for, chromite mining in the Ring of Fire.
Building these roads is a critical step in realizing the economic benefits of one of the biggest mineral-development opportunities in Ontario in almost a century. Funding for these roads is part of the government’s commitment to invest $1 billion in Ring of Fire infrastructure to create jobs, provide long-term benefits and improve quality of life for people in the region.
The mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire have an estimated value of $60 billion. Exploration discoveries to date include high-grade chromite, high-grade nickel, copper, zinc, gold, platinum group metals and vanadium. Chromite is an essential ingredient in the production of stainless steel.
Ontario is actively working with Marten Falls, Nibinamik, and Webequie First Nations to enter into funding agreements to support the next stage of technical and environmental studies, as well as economic opportunities.