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Liberal Ring of Fire plan a 'desperate announcement': Gélinas

In her party platform announcement Sunday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the Liberals would invest $1 billion, with or without the federal government's support, to build transportation infrastructure to the Ring of Fire.
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The Ontario government will make an “important” announcement on the Ring of Fire mineral deposits on April 28. File photo.
In her party platform announcement Sunday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the Liberals would invest $1 billion, with or without the federal government's support, to build transportation infrastructure to the Ring of Fire.

The previous Liberal budget, which was rejected by the NDP and Progressive Conservatives, promised $1 billion for Ring of Fire infrastructure if the federal government made the same commitment.

Gélinas said her party would also commit to infrastructure in the chromite-rich region of the province, but they have not settled on a number.

“The development of every part of our country and our province has been done with the government leading the way in infrastructure,” she said.

Andrew Olivier, the Liberal candidate in Sudbury, said the infrastructure costs have already been budgeted.

“We want to get that infrastructure done in the best and quickest way possible,” he said.

But the Liberals have not outlined what route they would follow for the transportation corridor.

Junior miner Noront Resources has advocated for an east-west road to the Ring of Fire, while KWG Resources has argued for a railroad that would take a north-south route.

The latter company has entered the political fray with a challenge for candidates to support the creation of a Ring of Fire development corporation led by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

Under KWG's proposal, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission would take the lead on plans to develop a railway to the Ring of Fire ore deposits.

Olivier said if elected, he would continue the work former Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci started to build a chromite processing facility in the Sudbury region.

Bartolucci's plans for a facility in Capreol fell through when American mining giant Cliffs Natural Resources stopped work on its $3.3-billion Ring of Fire development in 2013 due to a number of major hurdles. Those included a lack of agreements with First Nations in the area, and a lost appeal to the Ontario Mining Commission late last year that would have allowed the company an easement on the property to begin planning the necessary infrastructure.

On May 23, Noront announced it had acquired Cliffs’ abandoned Ring of Fire exploration camp at McFaulds Lake.

The Toronto-based company has said it would be “first in line” to purchase Cliffs' chromite claims on its Black Thor, Big Daddy and Black Label discoveries if they became available.

But Olivier said he would negotiate with whichever company has the most viable claims in the Ring of Fire to make sure Sudbury gets a processing facility.

In April, Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli told Northern Life his party would back Noront's plans for an east-west road to its Ring of Fire deposits.

“We believe there's a quick win here, and that's the Noront Resources solution,” he said.

But Sudbury's Conservative candidate, Paula Peroni, was less clear on the issue.

“I don't we've sided with any one particular person or company,” she said.

Peroni said the Conservatives would appoint a minister solely responsible for the Ring of Fire development.

“We wouldn't wait until there's a crisis, like Cliffs threatening to pull out,” Peroni said.

Jonathan Migneault

About the Author: Jonathan Migneault

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