The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
Northern Ontario’s untapped natural resources could stop the province’s economic decline and turn Ontario again into a Canadian economic powerhouse, a prominent mining analyst and commentator says.
But Stan Sudol also warned Ontario’s prospectors meeting in Sudbury that initiatives such as the Far North Act threaten to choke off develop-m e nt to a huge swath of resource-rich Northern Ontario.
“If there was ever a piece of legislation that symbolized the cultural disconnect between Ontario’s North and south, the Far North Act would surely be it,” Sudol said. “Only the various environmental movements supported this act.”
Sudol made the comments during a keynote address at the Ontario Prospectors Association’s 2011 Ontario Exploration & Geoscience Symposium held here Tuesday and Wednesday.
He said the Far North Act would cut out half of Northern Ontario from resource development — an area that “is about twice as large as southern Ontario.”
The potential cost to the province is extraordinary, especially at a time of economic uncertainty and multi-b illion-dollar deficits that require significant cutbacks to our social programs.
“What if there is another Sudbury Basin (in the far north)? Or an Abitibi-Greenstone belt that gave us Timmins and Kirkland Lake?”
Sudol said other provinces, particularly Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan, have acted, or are acting, to properly develop their natural resources, creating new sources of wealth and prosperity.
“Sadly, once proud Ontario is now a have-not province, receiving $2.2 billion in equalization payments during fiscal 2011-12. Our North has the tremendous potential to be one of the richest regions of the country.
“The mining sector can significantly reduce aboriginal poverty. And this part of Ontario could make major new tax contributions to an impoverished provincial treasury.
“Historically, mining has helped this province attain one of the highest standards of living in world. We helped settle and explore our northern regions. We helped turn- Toronto into a global financial powerhouse.”
Sudol called on the McGuinty government to rethink the Far North Act, saying it is creating uncertainty in the exploration industry. “If the Far North Act was implemented a decade ago, the Ring of Fire may not have been discovered,” he said.
The Ring of Fire area, located in the James Bay lowlands, contains promising finds of nickel, copper, platinum and palladium, as well as chromite. Cliffs Resources, a Cleveland-based company, is proposing to create as many as 1,300 jobs at the chromite mine and processing facility.
Cliffs may locate the processing plant near Capreol, creating up to 500 jobs.
Sudol said the demand for minerals, including nickel, will only grow as countries such as China and India continue to develop.
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