The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
TORONTO — Pulling stuff out of the ground is catching on with Premier Dalton McGuinty. “His curiosity was piqued,” McGuinty said Thursday of a meeting he had with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday regarding development of the so-called Ring of Fire area of Northern Ontario.
“I pressed upon the prime minister that we’ve got a great natural resource in our own province right here in our backyard that we need to develop together,” McGuinty said.
The Ring of Fire, about 250 km west of James Bay, holds North America’s largest deposit of chromite. Chromite is an important building block of stainless steel and the find could mean billions of dollars if it’s developed.
“We need to put a road up there, we need to extend electricity transmission up there, we need to invest the skills and training levels of our First Nations communities,” McGuinty said.
“This is a big project we can’t do it on our own, so what I invited the prime minister to do it, to give some thought as to how we might partner together with our First Nations communities to take every advantage of this new opportunity in our backyard.”
The Ring of Fire contains North America’s only known large-scale chromite deposit. If Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc develops the Black Thor project, it will likely revolutionize the stainless steel industry on the continent, which now relies on imports from South Africa and Kazakhstan. It would make Canada the world’s fourth-largest chromite producer.
Black Thor is the first of many projects that could keep the Ring of Fire bustling with drills, crushers and dump trucks well into the next century – until the deposits run dry.
The price of the Cliffs project has already ballooned to $3.3 billion from an earlier estimate closer to $1 billion. Costs include a smelter hundreds of miles south in Capreol, and some $600 million for an all-season road.
The Capreol smelter would create 400 to 500 jobs. Cliffs would create a simila number of jobs at the mine site.
Provincial officials said McGuinty and Harper met for about 45 minutes at a downtown hotel Tuesday morning. Federal officials confirmed the meeting but said it was private and would not take questions on what was discussed.
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