Sudbury·Audio

Ring of Fire: Feds waiting on Ontario to make a plan

The Ring of Fire mineral region could soon be developed with the help of some federal dollars.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hinting there might be funding for Ring of Fire

The province has committed to spending $1 billion to help develop the massive mineral deposit in northern Ontario. But there was no mention of Ring of Fire in the recent federal budget. (Noront Resources)
Prime Minister Trudeau expressed an interest in providing funding for the Ring of Fire even though there was no mention of it in the federal budget. For some reaction, we reached Alan Coutts of Noront Resources who's looking to develop the mining project. 7:51

The Ring of Fire mineral region could soon be developed with the help of some federal dollars.

But first, the feds say it's up to the province to come up with a plan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hinting there might be funding coming down the pipe for the Ring of Fire.

He was cryptic during his visit to Sudbury last week.

"I look forward to having more to say and [make an] announcement alongside many partners in the coming months," he said.

The president and CEO of Noront, one of the mining companies hoping to develop in the Ring of Fire area, said he isn't surprised Trudeau was tight-lipped.

"Mr Trudeau has articulated his priorities around First Nations and infrastructure and this fits in there very well," Alan Coutts said.

"It's just a question of the province saying exactly what it is and what role they see for the federal government and coming to some sort of agreement about who's going to do what."

And those are the discussions that are going on right now.

'Holistic' plan

Trudeau visited Thunder Bay on Friday, and local MPP and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said he is "looking forward to continuing to work with the federal government on these discussions."

Gravelle said the province is figuring out how roads will be built to the mining deposit.

"We're certainly going to do everything we can, in partnership with the First Nations, move those discussions forward, so that we can indeed help move this project to a place where the federal government is able to partner with us as well."

Coutts said the feds are waiting for the province to come up with its plan, based on information collected through research and consultation.

"Now, with all that information, it's time to say 'this is what we're going to build.' And by mid-year this year that's what we're looking for," he continued.

Once the province has its "holistic" plan, it will then be time "to reach out to the federal government and say 'it's time to put up the funds towards this project'."

During last year's election campaign, Trudeau promised to work with the Ontario government to bring resources to market from a vast stretch of territory known as the Ring of Fire — a region once dubbed by former federal Conservative cabinet minister Tony Clement as the oilsands of Ontario.

The Ring of Fire is a huge mineral deposit of chromite, nickel, gold, copper and platinum discovered in 2007, 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

"Things are sort of grinding forward in the right way," Coutts said. "At some point in time, you just have to say, "Right, now here's what we're proposing to do.'"

Trudeau would only say that he expects to make announcements "in the coming months" about the Ring of Fire.

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