The provincial government says it will begin working with First Nations to plan and construct a year -round access road into the proposed Ring of Fire mining development site in Northern Ontario, finally moving to implement a 2014 pledge to spend $1 billion to fund infrastructure into the area about 500 km. northeast of Thunder Bay.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said that Ontario will support First Nations to plan and construct an east-west road connecting the Webequie and Nibinamik communities to the provincial highway network north of Pickle Lake. This project would provide all-season access to both First Nations communities as well as into the Ring of Fire development.
Communities are working to begin environmental assessments of these projects by January 2018 and plan to begin construction in 2019, pending all necessary approvals.
As a next phase, Ontario will continue to support Marten Falls to undertake further technical and environmental studies that could inform planning and development of a north-south access road tied to the development of, and business case for, chromite mining in the Ring of Fire.
Building these roads is a critical step in realizing the economic benefits of one of the biggest mineral-development opportunities in Ontario in almost a century, the government said in a news release.
Noront Resources hopes to develop a mine to exploit the rich chromite deposits in the Ring of Fire. The area also has rich nickel, copper and platinum deposits – with an estimated value of $30 billion to $60 billion.
“Establishment of a road network with agreement on industrial access is our most important project advancement milestone, and we are very pleased to see it move ahead,” Alan Coutts, Noront Resources’ president and CEO, said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with the province and First Nations communities through the road construction and mine development processes.”