Thunder Bay

Ring of Fire 'zero hope' comment 'startles' mining minister

Ontario's mining minister says the Liberal promise to spend $1 billion dollars in the Ring of Fire still stands, despite dire words from the project's main proponent.

Michael Gravelle says latest comments from Cliffs only 'solidify' province's commitment

Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle, says the Liberal campaign promise of $1 billion for the Ring of Fire still stands, despite "startling" comments from Cliffs Natural Resources. (Jody Porter/CBC)

Ontario's mining minister says the Liberal promise to spend $1 billion dollars in the Ring of Fire still stands, despite dire words from the project's main proponent.

Cliffs Natural Resources new chief executive officer told the Financial Post on Tuesday that he has 'zero hope' that the chromite mining project in Northern Ontario will be developed anytime soon.

"The comments from the CEO of Cliffs were somewhat startling," said Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle. "What's interesting about his comments is how quickly they were criticized by other members of the mining industry who indicated they think he is wrong."

Gravelle said 20 other mining companies have interests in the Ring of Fire. Many mining analysts believe those companies don't have the financial backing to develop the project, but Gravelle remains optimistic.

$1 billion commitment

"I think it only serves to solidify our commitment in terms of the one billion," he said. "We recognize just how vital it is to build the infrastructure to what will be an extraordinary economic development project."

Premier Kathleen Wynne promised a $1 billion dollar investment in the Ring of Fire as part of her election campaign.

Gravelle said that money will start to flow for 'capital transportation infrastructure costs' once a decision is made on the best route to access the proposed mine.

He said the new, provincially-appointed development corporation will be involved in the decision on the route.

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