The Ontario government says the signing of a framework agreement with First Nations in the mineral-rich Ring of Fire region is an important "first step" that will ensure they benefit from the proposed mineral development.
The province says the plan with the nine Matawa-member First Nations allows the two sides to move forward with a negotiation process on a "community-based approach" to developing the mining project in northern Ontario.
It adds that the plan will allow the First Nations and province to jointly work on priorities including environmental monitoring, resource revenue sharing and infrastructure.
Noront Resources Ltd., which has a proposed Ring of Fire project, hailed the agreement as "essential" for allowing the massive resource development to move ahead swiftly.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce says the Ring of Fire could generate $25 billion in new economic activity over the next 30 years, with $9.4 billion over the next decade alone, and billions funnelled to federal, Ontario and municipal governments.
Ontario's Liberal government has sparred with Ottawa over funding for infrastructure in the region after there was no mention of the Ring of Fire in the recent federal budget.