Power Ring of Fire with hydro, chiefs say
First Nations and municipal leaders from northwestern Ontario are banding together with a list of demands to ensure long-term benefits of the Ring of Fire stay in the region.
The demands include powering the mines with hydropower, connecting remote communities to a hydro grid and road network and building Cliffs Resources’ chromite smelter in Greenstone.
“The companies want to come in and exploit the resources and leave nothing behind for local long standing benefits such as electric grid connection and road access, both a boost to the local economy,” said Marten Falls First Nation Chief Elijah Moonias.
Marten Falls was joined by Aroland, Constance Lake and three Lake Nipigon First Nations at the summit, held in Greenstone on April 17.
Mayors of four municipalities, including Greenstone and Thunder Bay, were also signatories to the Ring of Fire resolution signed at the summit.
Of major concern to all the signatories is the plan by Cliffs and Noront Resources to power Ring of Fire mines with diesel generators.
Moonias said the diesel generator plan not only shows disrespect to the natural environment, but to the local communities looking for the long-term benefits that connection to the southern electricity grid would bring.
“We want infrastructure out of the development, and a new powerline will do this,” Moonias said. “The province should support this for environmental reasons over diesel, and the federal government should support this long-range outlook as a grid connection will eliminate costly community diesel generation systems.”
The First Nations and municipalities also reiterated their support for the north-south transportation route to run from the Ring of Fire to highway 11, between Aroland and Constance Lake.
Cliffs has long maintained that its preferred transportation route is the north-south route, although Cliffs’ proposal does not connect Marten Falls to the road network.
The north-south route conflicts with the East-West transportation corridor promoted by Noront Resources and supported by four Matawa First Nations communities, although the companies say there is room for both corridors to go forward.
The summit also addressed the location of Cliffs’ proposed chromite smelter. In its environmental assessment application, Cliffs has the smelter being built in Sudbury, although the company has been examining other options including Greenstone and Thunder Bay.
As part of the resolution, signatories at the summit once again called on Cliffs to locate the smelter at Greenstone.
“I believe the mining companies still do not understand that the minerals are located under our land,” Moonias said. “I have said before, if they wish to mine the ore we want it processed in our territory. That means Exton, not Sudbury.”
Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation said the summit was a historic event, in that it brought together both First Nations and municipal leaders in a spirit of cooperation.
“We will not be treated like a third world country, where a company can walk in, take what it wants and get rich off our resources without giving back,” Gagnon said. “We don’t want to end up with our lands destroyed and that is what is going to happen if we keep going down this road.
“This summit today shows that the people in the North are getting together and will force these companies to work with all of us,” he added.
Email to a Friend
add to del.icio.us