Proponents of the mining industry wish the new provincial budget included more concrete provisions for the Ring of Fire.

The budget does extend a special electricity rate for mining and forestry, but some say it should have gone farther.

Iain Angus said he's pleased to see lower energy rates for the northwest's large industries continued for three years, but it should be permanent to benefit the mining sector.

"Those who are ready to invest a billion dollars in a mine need to have some certainty around their energy prices," said Angus, who co-chairs a taskforce that focuses on energy issues.

Thunder Bay city manager Tim Commisso said he was also hoping for a bigger push for development of the Ring of Fire.

"I think the reality of it is we're looking really for some strong leadership and direction, particularly in relation to mining," he said. "And

[it] looks like we're still going to be waiting awhile."


Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle says his government is committed to the Ring of Fire project moving forward. Critics say the Liberal's budget didn't address the project appropriately. (CBC)

But Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said he doesn't see it that way and that the government is committed to the Ring of Fire.

"That's reflected in … Premier Wynne's recognition that northern Ontario may indeed be where the future of our economic development opportunities truly lie," he said, adding the Ring of Fire project will move forward.

‘Opportunity’ to make changes

The NDP's MPP in Kenora-Rainy River is calling the Ontario budget "a mixed bag."

Sarah Campbell said she's pleased to see some of the NDP's suggestions reflected in the budget, but has concerns about spending costs and wants to speak with her constituents before passing final judgment.

"I’m not overly enthusiastic about the budget in its current form, but that being said, I think that there's still an opportunity for us to make some changes," she said.

Bill Mauro, the Liberal MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan, said his party has been listening to the NDP.

"There are significant components of this budget that I think speak directly to some of the concerns that they've expressed to us, over the last four weeks or so," he said.

First Nations infrastructure funding missing: chief

The provincial budget does promise $5 million to First Nations communities near the Ring of Fire to support them as it continues to negotiate with area First Nations about their interests in the mining development.

But Nishnawbe-Aski Nation's Grand Chief Harvey Yesno noted it's not just the communities near the Ring of Fire that need support.

"That's the big item that I was kind of looking at, see whether it was the vision of this government, as far as partnering with First Nations, particularly Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, as opposed to just responding to a particular economic opportunity, like the Ring of Fire," he said.

Yesno said he was hoping to see commitments to developing all-weather roads and power lines to remote communities.