Today it is my pleasure to share news with you that is exciting and historic in nature… Ontario is blessed with an abundance of natural resources at a time when the world is developing faster than ever, and demanding these resources.
The increasing demand is why mining is experiencing unprecedented growth. It is driving economies and progress around the world. We must take advantage of the incredible opportunity for jobs and prosperity that this sector presents for northern Ontario – including our First Nations communities, and our province as a whole.
And today, I’m happy to say that this boom is again being demonstrated right here in Sudbury, and across the north.
Ring of Fire – Chromite
The Ring of Fire, located over 500 km North of Thunder Bay, is the only substantial deposit of chromite in North America… In fact, it is estimated that it will yield an estimated 2.3 million tonnes of chromite per year over a 30-year mine life.
What makes this massive discovery of chromite exciting is that it is a key component in the manufacture of stainless steel…
…A material needed around the world, and used in basically most things we use in the course of our day to day lives.
What’s very exciting is, communities across the north are poised to reap the benefits of this project
And that’s why I’m proud to tell that you that today as we speak, Cliffs Natural Resources is announcing to the financial community that it intends to build a $1.85-billion chromite smelter in Ontario.
The smelter would process chromite into ferrochrome to be used in the production of stainless steel.
So why did Cliffs Choose Ontario?
Because we are leaders in mineral exploration, mineral production, mine financing, skilled workers, training programs and environmental stewardship.
Just look at some of these facts:
• More money is spent on mining exploration than anywhere else in North America – this year we reached a historic $1 billion in mineral exploration investment.
• We lead the continent by value in non-fuel mineral production. No other place in the world has the financial strength we do in this sector – the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is the mining investment capital of the world:
• The mining industry creates over 27,500 direct and 50,000 indirect jobs in the province.
• Ontario’s leading-edge mine supply and service sector in Northern Ontario is worth an estimated $5.6 billion per year and provides an additional 23,000 jobs.
• Ontario’s mining companies meet the highest standards of environmental stewardship
It is within this climate of excellence that Cliffs has decided to locate its $1.85 billion Ferrochrome Processing Facility north of Capreol in the Greater Sudbury Region.
Cliffs was very specific when they explained why they chose Capreol after a lengthy and thorough analysis. Cliffs says this region was selected because it would best support the overall success of the Ring of Fire project. More specifically, we have an existing mining cluster of expertise, experiences workers, the appropriate community supports and access to existing power.
This means about 900 direct new jobs are coming to the Sudbury area – 450 during construction, and up to 450 more during production.
In addition, mine and mill development in the far north will create as many as 700 direct jobs over and above the mining supply and service jobs and the induced jobs the Cliffs Chromite mine will create in Northwestern Ontario.
For both the northeast and the northwest of the province, these numbers don’t speak to the thousands of jobs associated with opportunity for the mining supply and services sector and subsequent spin off employment.
They don’t reflect the prosperity for northern businesses through wages spent locally.
And the numbers don’t speak to the excellent opportunity for First Nations to share in the economic benefits.
And that’s not all… we’re are also proud to announce that we are bolstering our commitment to realizing the Ring of Fire’s potential by investing in a transportation corridor that would make north western Ontario municipalities a hub for regional development and could provide the opportunity to connect many remote First Nation communities to new and existing infrastructure.
My Friends, clearly this is an exciting time for Northern Ontario. Clearly, the McGuinty government is working very hard to maximize economic benefits for our great region.
But, we must make sure we get it right.
The massive opportunity the Ring of Fire provides must be approached in a responsible, inclusive manner.
We must ensure we are environmentally responsible, that we meet our duty to consult with the appropriate First Nations, and that any undertaking must bring long-term prosperity to these communities through appropriate engagement and resources.
So, we are listening intently to the advice of First Nations, industry, environmental organizations, and communities.
This progressive and comprehensive outreach is vital to the long-term success of the project, and to the prosperity of all Ontarians.
There are a number of First Nations communities in the vicinity of the Ring of Fire who consider the land as their traditional territory.
This is why they must be front and centre in its development and use.
We are hearing from First Nations communities that they are not adverse to development, but they want be among those who reap the benefits and want to ensure development occurs in an environmentally sustainable manner.
To date, we have provided over $8 million annually to remote Ring of Fire communities to address the needs they have identified. This includes:
• Employment and income assistance to cover costs of food, shelter and basic needs… as well as supports for individuals trying to re-enter the workforce
• Health care, mental health and victim’s services to tackle terrible social issues affecting citizens
• Early childhood education and youth supports to build the life skills needed to prosper in the new, complex global economy
• Transportation and infrastructure to supply a necessary lifeline of goods, supplies and communications that is lacking, and
• Capacity and skills training at a community level to ensure all First Nations can fully and completely benefit from the incredible promise of the Ring of Fire.
Clearly, while much work has already been done, formal discussions will focus on meaningful outcomes in key areas that must be addressed well into the future. Such as:
• Social, community, and infrastructure supports Regional, environmental monitoring of long-term impacts to the Ring of Fire area
• Resource revenue sharing to help ensure everyone gets their fair share.
As we move forward with this proposed project, we again call on our federal colleagues for a financial commitment to help share the costs associated with these regional infrastructure and social supports.
Today is a great day for Ontario. Today I would like to heartily applaud and those who travelled to Cleveland to demonstrate why Ontario is the best place to do business.
Today’s announcement demonstrates that not only is Ontario open for business, but Northern Ontario is THE region to do business. I am very proud today to be a Northerner. I am proud that we have worked together to secure this investment into the North. As the saying goes, ‘the future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.”