Thunder Bay

'Sex sells': Mining company defends use of bikini video to promote Ontario's Ring of Fire

An Ontario mining company's use of young women in bikinis to promote the Ring of Fire mineral deposit is proof the development is off course, according to environmental group Wildlands League.

KWG creates video featuring young women in bikinis to promote Ring of Fire mining development

A video produced by KWG Resources to promote the Ring of Fire mining development in Northern Ontario has one critic laughing 'not in a good way.' (KWG Resources/Youtube)

An Ontario mining company's use of young women in bikinis to promote the Ring of Fire mineral deposit is proof the development is off course, according to environmental group Wildlands League.

The exploration company, KWG Resources, published a one-minute video on its YouTube channel last week featuring two young women sharing "five facts" about the Ring of Fire.

Each fact comes with a change in scenery for the women who are dressed in bikini tops and cut-off shorts. In one scene, a woman identified only as Ashley sits on a swing and says: "First Nations is [sic] interested in sharing in the resources of Ontario's Ring of Fire."

In another scene, Ashley strides through the bush towards a tree, saying: "Tony Clement said the Ring of Fire would bring a hundred years of mining activity, spinning off jobs for generations."

KWG is a proponent of building a rail line through the remote area known as the Ring of Fire to help open it up to mining development.

"I had to laugh out loud, but not in a good way," said Anna Baggio, the director of conservation planning for the environmental group. "I'm not sure that this kind of thinking from another era is something we want in 2016."

Baggio said the "retro attitude" displayed by KWG in using sex in an attempt to sell mining shares is symptomatic of the old ways of thinking the company brings to environmental concerns and relations with First Nations.

Actress and model Theresa Longo approached KWG offering to create the 'Mining Minute' series to promote the company to a younger audience, KWG president Frank Smeenk says. (KWG Resources/Youtube)

'Trying to reach a younger audience'

The company is defending the video.

"Sex sells," KWG president Frank Smeenk said when asked by CBC News about the criticism.

Model Theresa Longo approached the company about creating the YouTube video series featuring KWG, Smeenk said. He views it as a way of using social media "to reach a whole generation that doesn't know anything about what we do here on Bay Street."

"This young lady, as an actress has 70,000-odd followers on Twitter, that's a bigger audience, and as an old guy I'm trying to reach that younger audience," he said.

But Baggio remains unconvinced.

"I think it's time to cast away some of these old ideas about women being used as props and bring KWG into the 21st century," she said. "We're way off where we need to be in the Ring of Fire."

Baggio would like to see Ontario change its approach to approving mining development, including the current practice of having mining companies lead the environmental assessment process. 

"It doesn't seem like a good idea to have these kinds of retrograde ideas and philosophies in the lead," she said.

The Ring of Fire mineral deposit is located in Ontario's James Bay Lowlands, a part of the province where there are no all-weather roads.

The development was once touted as the economic equivalent of the oilsands but falling mineral prices have tempered interest in the project.

KWG trades as a penny stock.