March 26, 2014
The Province of Ontario and nine Matawa-member First Nations signed a framework agreement today for a community-based regional approach to development in the Ring of Fire.
The agreement is intended to ensure that First Nations and Ontario can work together to advance Ring of Fire opportunities, including regional long-term environmental monitoring and enhanced participation in environmental assessment processes, resource revenue sharing, economic supports, regional and community infrastructure.
Development in the Ring of Fire is subject to all necessary environmental assessment and regulatory processes, and fulfillment of the Crown’s duty to consult. The framework agreement must be viewed as the Governments response to concerns about that approval process.
Most notably Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. stopped work in November last year on its $3.3-billion chromite project in the area, blaming unresolved land claims, environmental assessment issues and lack of government support for infrastructure and power needs.
Noront Resources Ltd., which submitted last December a draft environmental assessment report for its Eagle’s Nest project to mine high-grade nickel, copper, platinum and palladium in the Ring of Fire, will also be looking to this agreement to facilitate its regulatory process.
The Ring of Fire, located 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, has mineral potential known to be worth $60 billion. It includes the largest deposit of chromite, a key ingredient of stainless steel, ever discovered in North America. The Ring of Fire also holds the potential for significant production of nickel, copper and platinum.
In July 2013, Ontario appointed former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci as the lead negotiator for Ontario to participate in discussions with the Matawa-member First Nations on proposed resource development in the Ring of Fire.
Matawa Chiefs Council is comprised of the Matawa-Member First Nations Chiefs. The First Nations are located in Northern Ontario. Five First Nations are remote and accessible only by air or winter road. Four of the First Nations are drive-in communities. All nine First Nations will be impacted by resource development in the area known as the Ring of Fire.
In November 2013, Ontario announced that it would lead the creation of a development corporation to bring together private and public partners, including key mining companies, First Nations, and the provincial and federal governments, to lead strategic infrastructure development for the Ring of Fire region.