Former mines minister says province plays a role in new mining developments
Rick Bartolucci says although company has final say, government has a ‘critical role to play’
As Noront Resources continues to consider where to put a smelter that will process minerals from the Ring of Fire, a former mines minister says both the provincial and federal governments will play a major role in that decision.
Four cities across northern Ontario, including Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay are all vying for the ferrochrome smelter and the hundreds of jobs that will come with it.
Noront Resources says its decision on where to place that smelter won't be affected by the outcome of next month's provincial election.
"Noront is right when they say ultimately and finally they'll make the decision as to where it goes," Rick Bartolucci, former Sudbury MPP and former minister of Northern Development and Mines said.
"But the government, both governments, both provincial and federal governments, have a critical role to play in all of that."
'Put forth help'
Bartolucci was the mines minister and was involved with negotiations with Cliffs Natural Resources, the first company that held the claims to the Ring of Fire. In 2012, it was announced that company was planning to build its smelter in Sudbury. Eventually, it sold the claims to Noront.
He says the talks in 2012 involved the province and the company and said not only was the premier involved but several ministries, including mines, energy and infrastructure.
"You're going to have all those ministries trying to come together to put forth help so that the mining company will ultimately be successful," he said.
"So you look at energy prices, you look at infrastructure, you look at the opportunities with regard to the workforce and try to ensure that the mining company is aware of the potential that we have here in Ontario."
All the parties hoping to form the next government of Ontario are promising to develop the Ring of Fire. But none are saying where they'd like to see a plant built to process the ore.
Bartolucci says whichever party is elected in June will have a key role, but also adds public servants within the ministries also play a part.
"Politicians come and go. Governments come and go," he said.
"But the bureaucracy stays in place. That's good because I look at the bureaucracy at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the people who work there, they are so dedicated to mining. They are so dedicated to the people of northern Ontario, at the end of the day, the decision making will take place and it will be the right place for it to go."