Ring of Fire breakthrough can’t come soon enough
According to a recent report in the Financial Post, the Ford government is seeking to break the continuing gridlock over developing Ontario’s vast chromite deposits in an area known as the Ring of Fire. Ontario’s chromite deposits are valued at an estimated $30 billion to $60 billion.
Ontario’s new approach could be called divide and conquer, or more generously, divide and listen, shifting from unwieldy group negotiations to a bilateral approach with negotiations with nine First Nation bands individually, to better tailor any development agreements to their individual needs.
At this point, it really can’t hurt to scrap the regional framework adopted by the last Ontario government in favour of one-on-one negotiations.
As Greg Rickford, Ontario’s minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs, said:
“Despite over a decade of talk and more than $20 million invested, real progress on the Ring of Fire has been met with delay after delay. That’s why Ontario is taking a new, pragmatic approach to unlocking the Ring of Fire’s potential, one that includes working directly with willing First Nation partners.”
Mining is an essential part of rural economic development and more progress must be made on developing the Ring of Fire for rural populations in Ontario, which were hit hard by the 2009 recession and—in many regions—are still struggling, and for the province’s overall economic health.