Plan to develop Eagle's Nest site a step 'in positive direction' for Indigenous communities
Director of Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund hopes job training, business planning for communities starts now
Noront Resources estimates the region is still at least a decade away from seeing chromite come out of ground in the Ring of Fire.
But Noront president and CEO Alan Coutts told members of Sudbury's Chamber of Commerce the company hopes to soon be mining nickel from its Eagle's Nest site.
And that could have an enormous impact on remote Indigenous communities.
Eagle's Nest is located between the First Nations of Webequie and Marten Falls, about 250 kilometres west of the James Bay Coast.
Coutts said Sudbury can expect to see nickel concentrate within five years, benefiting not only these communities, but Sudbury's economy as well.
"The concentrate from the nickel mine will come to one of the Sudbury smelters, regardless," Coutts told CBC News, "You can just think about the vehicles and the traffic and the trains coming into the site, the work that could be supported by that mineral concentrate coming."
Brian Davey, the executive director of the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund, said Eagle's Nest is good news for isolated communities like Webequie and Marten Falls.
"Overall, it's moving in a positive direction," Davey said.
"If we could start with Nickel and go from there, as [Noront] indicated...that will allow for the benefits to flow that come through jobs and businesses and supplier contracts."
But Davey added that he thinks both sides need to ramp up efforts to benefit communities right out of the gate.
"I think we're a little behind," Davey said "I'm sorry to say, but we need to think of specific jobs where training can begin now."
Davey said that potential entrepreneurs in remote communities also need to be recognized.
Proponents of developing Eagle's Nest and the Ring of Fire point to economic spinoffs and business opportunities, but Indigenous business owners need to see some benefits.
"What are those business opportunities?" Davey said. "Not everyone wants to be an employee. From my perch, I find there's a lot of people who want to get involved in business."
With files from Benjamin Aube