Ontario is committed to discussing resource revenue sharing with First Nation communities. “As you know, Ontario has committed to our First Nations community to have that discussion in regards to resource revenue sharing,” said Rick Bartolucci, minister of Northern Development and Mines during the 2nd Annual Ontario Mining Forum, held June 19 at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay.
“Ontario is also calling on the federal government for financial commitments to help share the costs associated with regional infrastructure and social economic supports for First Nation communities,” Bartolucci said.
Resource revenue sharing and social, economic and community supports were among the key issues addressed in the June 12 signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between Ontario and Webequie.
“There were some key areas that (Webequie) Chief (Cornelius) Wabasse and his community wanted us to become involved in,” Bartolucci said. “Some of that was the regional environmental monitoring, regional infrastructure, the discussion about resource revenue sharing, the opportunity to bring the federal government to the table.”
Bartolucci said the provincial government is continuing to discuss those issues with Marten Falls.
“While we are still in discussions with Marten Falls, our dialogue has been very productive,” Bartolucci said. “And we are looking forward to further discussions in the future.”
Bartolucci is also interested in having discussions with Neskantaga and other communities.
“I look forward to being able to sit down and have that dialogue, not only with Neskantaga, but other First Nations as well,” Bartolucci said. “That consultation, that collaboration, that consensus is key as we move forward with the Ring of Fire.”
Bartolucci said the provincial government has provided more than $8 million annually to remote Ring of Fire communities to address community-identified needs, including employment and income assistance, health care, mental health and victim services.
“This proposed mine project could create as many as 1,200 direct jobs and additional employment opportunities at supplier industries for area First Nations and other northern communities,” Bartolucci said about the Cliffs chromite mine project in the Ring of Fire. “Estimates are that the mine site, which includes the mine and concentrator, would directly employ 450 people a year during construction and operation.”
Bartolucci said construction of an all-season road and operation of an integrated transportation system would directly employ 300 people a year.
“In our view, it will be First Nation, Metis and many other northern communities that will benefit from activities associated with development of the Ring of Fire,” Bartolucci said. “Between 2014 and 2016, the construction of mining, transportation and primary metal infrastructure is expected to generate employment for about 1,700 people a year, over two-thirds of whom would be in northern communities.”
Bartolucci said the project is expected to provide about 5,000 direct and indirect jobs across Ontario beginning in 2017.
“Current estimates are that the Ring of Fire may yield an estimated 2.3 (million metric) tons of chromite (concentrate) per year over a 30-year mine life,” Bartolucci said. “It will be a game changer for the ferrochrome industry in North America.”
Bartolucci said the provincial government is also looking to develop a tripartite model of engagement involving First Nation communities, the province of Ontario and the federal government, noting that Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper met to discuss the Ring of Fire issue last month.
“We proposed discussions with the federal government, which could include but are not limited to social, economic and community development, regional infrastructure support including transmission, local road access and broadband needs,” Bartolucci said. “Long-term monitoring of the environmental impacts of the Ring of Fire area could complement the existing environmental assessments and land use planning processes.”