Ring of Fire blockades lifted
Mining company eager to resume work in chromite-rich area
The company with the largest interest in the Ring of Fire chromite deposit northeast of Thunder Bay is hailing the decision to end the blockades of two frozen landing strips there.
Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations set up the blockades in January, saying they were frustrated by a lack of consultation by mining companies with interests in the area.
The two landing strips are used by mining companies to access the Ring of Fire, a largely untapped mineral-rich area 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.
It also falls on traditional First Nations territory.
The blockades were lifted Friday after band leaders said they had received positive responses to their concerns from the mining companies.
Issues included job training and employment for band members, environmental accountability and construction of a new airport in the area.
Joanne Jobin of Toronto-based Noront Resources — which holds more than 1,100 square kilometres of claims in the area, said the company is pleased.
"We are looking forward to getting our supplies back into camp, and getting our drills in, and starting as soon as we can," she said.
Marten Falls Chief Elijah Moonias said Thursday that the First Nations would work with companies and government over the next six months to get their issues resolved.
Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie said they would be closely monitoring progress over the next six months.
"We've been negotiating with them, and having a very strong, open dialogue throughout the blockade," Jobin said. "We plan to ensure we can make good on all of our efforts."
The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry says 10 mining companies are actively working in the area, although many more have claims staked.
There are more than 30,000 claim units in the 5,000-square-kilometre Ring of Fire.
Chromite is used to make stainless steel.