Wolf Lake drilling isn't harming old growth forest: prospector

Conservationists, mineral exploration company debate future of Wolf Lake Forest Reserve
A cross section of a 240 year old red pine from the Wolf Lake Forest. The 'tree cookie', as they call them at Science North, a science centre in Sudbury, is on exhibit there. (Allison Dempster/CBC)
Science North biologist Franco Mariotti shows a cross-section of a 240 year old red pine from the Wolf Lake Forest. The 'tree cookie', as they call them at the Sudbury science centre, is on exhibit there. Mariotti says some of the trees in the forest reserve are up to 300 years old. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Conservationists continue to raise alarms about the future of the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, northeast of Sudbury.

But a mineral exploration company with claims in the area said they have nothing to worry about.

The province is looking at re-classifying a section of the forest reserve and may open it up to more mineral exploration.

Calgary-based Flag Resources has been exploring in the area since the early 80s.

Spokesperson Murdo McLeod said the drilling activity isn't harming the old growth forest.

"Ontario's a helluva big province," he said.

"Why the hell are they concerned about Wolf Lake, with the potential for mineral wealth for Ontario?"

The forest around Wolf Lake is believed to be the largest stand of old growth red pine left in North America.

McLeod said Flag Resources has spent $8 million on exploration in the area.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk said she hopes an agreement can be reached to the benefit of all interested parties. She noted it would be a great loss if the area were destroyed.

Matichuk was not available to answer questions about the statement.