Regional business and political leaders continue to be disappointed by Cliffs’ decision to setup a processor in Sudbury, but say they look forward to other opportunities area mining could bring.
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Harold Wilson said he shared a lot of the same concerns that First Nation and municipal leaders had Wednesday when Cliffs announced it would build a $1.8 billion ferrochrome processor near Sudbury.
He was also disappointed that the province made no announcements to coincide with the company’s $3.3 billion announcement that would also include an all-weather road north of Nakina.
“Show us where that’s going to be. How is that going to link up to First Nations communities that can greatly benefit from that? How much are they (Ontario) investing into it and how can we turn that into other economic opportunities?” Wilson said.
For Thunder Bay specifically, Wilson said the lack of commitments are creating uncertainty in the mining industry that is making it harder for the city’s 25 junior companies to raise enough money to look for more potential in the region. There are at least a dozen potential mines in the area already.
“The uncertainty is based on whether mines can come to fruition,” he said.
Wilson said he was encouraged by Aboriginal Affairs minister Kathleen Wynne talk about resource sharing agreements, something First Nations communities and municipalities have wanted to discuss for a long time.
“That is huge that’s something that everybody has wanted for awhile,” he said.
Still Cliffs has been able to bolster confidence that mines can open in Ontario Wilson said. And the city is quickly becoming a mining centre even without a processor. Despite some trepidation, Wilson said there will no doubt be incredible long-term economic opportunities for the whole region.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much of a mining centre we have become already,” he said.
Northwestern Ontario Municipal Organization president Ron Nelson said he was also disappointed to hear the news from Cliffs and laments the loss of 450 potential jobs with it but understands it’s a business decision.
“We may not be overly excited about their business decision but we also look at the big picture for Northwestern Ontario,” he said. “We’re going to move forward we’re going to look at the positive end of it.”
The positives include around 4000 jobs for the mine itself with another 300 jobs to build the new roadway.
There will also be plenty of new businesses that open up once production begins Nelson said.
Queen’s Park was heating up on Thursday with opposition members accusing the government of “closed door negotiations” over the announcement. Premier Dalton McGuinty was also questioned about Cliffs announcement that 40 per cent of the chromite would be shipped overseas for processing.
McGuinty said telling private business they can’t ship raw materials to other parts of the world ignores the global economy.
Materials from many other jurisdictions are processed in Ontario he added.