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Wynne: Deal finally reached for road link to Ring of Fire

Besides opening mineral deposit to development, all-season road will link First Nation communities to provincial highway network

Premier Kathleen Wynne is in Thunder Bay this morning, announcing that partnership agreements are in place to build a permanent, four-season road to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in the northwest.

Touted as an historic mineral deposit that includes chromite and other minerals, the Ring of Fire is in a remote, swampy part of the province. Settling on how to access the deposit, mine the deposit and work with First Nations in the area has seen the process toward development take a long and meandering course.

Since 2014, Ontario has pledged $1 billion to developing the Ring of Fire deposit, as long as the federal government pitches in funding as well. Ontario is no longer insisting its billion dollars is contingent upon federal funding.

Today’s announcement regarding a road is also being called “historic.” Besides providing permanent access to the deposit, the road announcement means five First Nations in the region of the Ring of Fire will have year-round access to the provincial highway system for the first time ever.

Besides the premier and Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle, on hand for the announcement was Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie First Nations and Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of Marten Falls First Nation. Chief Johnny Yellowhead of Nibinamik was unable to make it as his community is under an evacuation order.

Wynne said key to making the development work is the partnership between the province and First Nations.

More details on the announcement will be published shortly.