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Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire has been identified by the Ontario government as “one of the most promising mineral development opportunities in Ontario in almost a century” (http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/en/ring-fire-secretariat). Located in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario, the Ring of Fire contains the largest deposit of chromite ever discovered in North America, as well as significant amounts of nickel, copper, zinc, gold and platinum. Chromite is a key ingredient in stainless steel.

According to the provincial government, the area offers “multi-generational potential of chromite production.” The more than 20 companies which hold claims in the Ring of Fire have spent almost $300 million to date on exploration.

The Ring of Fire covers approximately 5,120 square km of muskeg swamps located about 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay, about 70 km east of Webequie and due west of the Victor Diamond Mine near the Attawapiskat River.

Observers have likened the Ring of Fire variously to the Sudbury Basin and Alberta’s oil-sands. Economist Don Drummond, Chair of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, stated in his report to the provincial government:

This development of major mineral deposits in northern Ontario offers the prospect of substantial socio-economic opportunities for all northern residents, particularly Aboriginal Peoples. The government should collaborate with Aboriginals, industry and the federal government to maximize these opportunities.

Referring specifically to the Ring of Fire, Premier Dalton McGuinty also underlined the need for a cooperative approach involving both senior levels of government and First Nations:

This is a big project, we can't do it on our own, so what I invited the prime minister to do is to give some thought as to how we might partner together with our First Nations communities to take every advantage of this new opportunity in our backyard. (Canadian Press, May 24, 2012)

The development of mining, transportation and primary metal infrastructure serving the Ring of Fire, followed by ongoing operations that are expected to extend for generations, will create thousands of jobs, mainly in Northern Ontario.

To unlock this enormous economic potential, transportation links and other infrastructure must be provided to the area. The New Deal offers the best alternative to achieve this by means of a new rail link and leveraging existing ONTC assets.

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