Ring of Fire miners want Ontario to start making decisions

Two of the biggest players in the Ring of Fire say the province has to start making decisions to move the mining development forward.

Sudbury crowd told that southern Ontario needs to be sold on the Ring of Fire mining development

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is trying to change the conversation about the mining potential of the far north. It has released a report and is staging a series of panel discussions across the province — one of which was held at Sudbury's Dynamic Earth on Thursday evening. The discussion featured representatives from two of the major players, Noront Resources and Cliffs Natural Resources. (Erik White/CBC)

Two of the biggest players in the Ring of Fire say the province has to start making decisions to move the mining development forward.

Noront Resources board chair Paul Parisotto said, while he'd like to have his mine in the far north open by now, he's not in a rush.

"You'll hear [Northern Development and Mines] Minister Gravelle say all the time: 'We have to get it right.' To me, that's been code for, let's move slowly and make sure things get done properly."

That answer didn't sit well with a frustrated Dick Destefano from the Sudbury Mining Supply and Service Association.

“That's the standard line we've been listening to for the past three years. You have fundamental differences."

Those differences are largely about the road to be built into the Ring of Fire area. Noront would like it running East-West, while Cliffs Natural Resources wants it north-south.

'Almost impossible' to commit

Cliffs’ director of Furnace Technology, Matthew Cramer, said the companies aren't fighting. But until the government decides, they can't convince investors to put "real money" into these mines.

(The Canadian Press)

"Until that decision is made or that infrastructure is built, it's almost impossible to fully evaluate the project and commit to the funding," he aid.

Cramer urged the Sudbury crowd to start putting pressure on politicians if they want to see Cliffs' chromite smelter actually built in the city.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce vice-president of policy and government relations said he compares the Ring of Fire to the Alberta oil sands — a project that, at one time, only made headlines out west.

"We want to shift in the public's imagination the Ring of Fire from a northern Ontario play to a whole of Ontario play” said  Josh Hjartarson.

Cramer agreed there is some work to do educating the south about mining.

"I talk to guys in southern Ontario about a smelter and you get a glossed-over look,” he said.

“In Sudbury, you get an understanding. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, but you get an understanding of what it looks like and what it means for a community, [and] what it means for the environment."

Cramer told the crowd that Cliffs remains committed to its Ring of Fire deposit and plans for a smelter in Sudbury.