Junior mining companies are feeling the brunt of a tough stretch on the metal and mineral markets — and of stalled development in the Ring of Fire. 

That's according to Garry Clark, the executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association.

Clark just attended the annual Prospectors and Developers Association Convention this week in Toronto.

He said investors are shying away from putting money into junior companies.

“They're struggling greatly. I think part of that is trying to raise money,” he said. 

garry clark

The Ontario Prospectors and Developers Association's Garry Clark says Deloitte will be a solid, independent group that put together a well-balanced Ring of Fire Development Corporation. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

“It's hard to find the money we need to do the exploration or even just to keep the junior companies alive. You see that in the fact that there's lots of mergers and acquisitions and … partnering of junior companies.”

Clark said this is the worst down-turn in the industry he's ever seen, however this year's PDAC event was more uplifting than the one before.

The industry lull means surviving junior companies will face less competition for investment dollars.

“So the money pool is now going to a smaller group, and that'll probably continue for a while as you merge these companies together,” he said.

Two of the biggest players in the Ring of Fire — Noront and Cliffs Natural Resources — point to government indecision on infrastructure as the sticking point for potential investors.