Cliffs Natural Resources has renewed its threat to abandon a proposed mining project in the Ring of Fire region in the James Bay lowlands of Northern Ontario.

The threat has set off a political firestorm, since the proposal is set to bring thousands of jobs to the region and a new smelter to Capreol in Greater Sudbury.

Cliffs said if it can’t access a piece of land already staked by KWG Resources, it won’t have a transportation route.

Without that route, the company said it will have to shut down its proposed multi-billion dollar chromite project, which is considered the centre piece of the Ring of Fire.

Cliffs has requested the provincial government intervene, and possibly even expropriate the land on its behalf.

The issue was raised in the Ontario legislature yesterday when New Democrat MPP Michael Mantha, who is also the party’s critic on Northern Development and Mines, called on the province to get involved.

“The Ring of Fire is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of Ontario, but it requires transportation” he said.

“The Liberal government’s lack of action sends a bad message to companies willing to invest in Ontario.”

 ‘A mistake’

The vice president of exploration and development at KWG said he’s angry there are members of provincial parliament pushing so hard on Cliff’s behalf.

“For the Ontario government to intervene in what is a very competitive corporate world is actually a mistake,” Moe Lavigne said.

“Our position on this is that it doesn’t matter what Cliffs do. We’re going to continue to develop our deposits in the Ring of Fire.”

The Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner already ruled that Cliffs has no claim to KWG's land holdings.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said he is talking to both companies about the dispute, but he would not say whether the government would intervene further.

Neither the Liberal government nor opposition parties have indicated if they’ll consider taking back the claims held by KWG.