The Ring of Fire deposit north of Thunder Bay, Ontario is expected to generate about $120 billion in economic activity over its entire life.
The deposit includes chromite (used in stainless steel), as well as copper and nickel.
Tony Clement, the treasury board president, has compared the Ring of Fire mining and smelter activity as the “Canada’s next oil sands.” The project itself would transform Northern Ontario, he said.
However, Clement also wisely noted that engagement with the region’s First Nations communities will be essential for the project’s success.
Better yet, First Nations can partner with mining producers, which will generate lasting dividends to these communities. Rather than oppose or hold up the development, these communities should try to generate as many benefits from it as possible. The mining companies also should work closely with these communities because First Nations have the potential to hold it up.
“It has the potential to transform what was hitherto a very poor, underdeveloped area of Ontario and give people who live there, particularly First Nations people, a chance for a decent life,” Clement said, to the Huffington Post.
Resource development is truly the New Buffalo for First Nations communities and they should engage with it as much as possible.