Northern Ontario’s First Nations Voice: http://wawataynews.ca/
Concerns that Ontario is planning to give a special ministerial exemption to Cliffs Natural Resources so that the American company can export raw ore from the Ring of Fire out of Canada were raised in the provincial legislature Aug. 28.
The MPP for Timmins-James Bay who brought up the issue was left scratching his head over Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci’s response.
On Aug. 28 NDP MPP Gilles Bisson asked Bartolucci whether the government is “in any way in discussions with Cliffs resources to sign a ministerial permit allowing ore to be shipped out of Canada?” Instead of answering the question, Bartolucci explained the government’s position on the mining development.
“We are very, very excited about the Ring of Fire,” Bartolucci said in his response. “There are several aspects that the government is speaking to Cliffs about, which will be no surprise to the member from Timmins–James Bay, because we were very, very excited. I think members on both sides of the House were very, very excited when Cliffs decided that they were going to build their processing plant in Ontario.”
Answering a follow up question from Bisson, Bartolucci reiterated his excitement.
“Maybe the member from Timmins-James Bay isn’t excited about the Ring of Fire, but I can tell you that everybody else in northern Ontario is very, very excited,” Bartolucci said. “In fact, the mayor of Timmins is very, very excited. He’s looking for the opportunity that this very exciting project will bring to the people of northern Ontario.”
In an interview after the exchange, Bisson said the minister’s response has left him even more concerned that the government is planning to let Cliffs ship raw ore out of Canada for processing.
Bisson said he asked the question after a number of people connected to the mining industry informed him that talks were happening between Cliffs and Ontario regarding a government exemption to allow the company to export ore.
“If it is not true, all (Bartolucci) is going to do is say its not true,” Bisson said. “Instead he did not answer the question. There’s something going on, that’s for damn sure.”
Under Ontario’s mining act, companies need permission from the provincial minister in order to ship ore out of Canada. The rule is set up to ensure that Canada benefits from secondary industries related to mining.
Bisson said the case of Xtrata’s processing plant in Timmins, which was shut down last year because electricity prices in the province were too high, leaves him to believe that Cliffs will not want to build a processing plant in Ontario as electricity prices are prohibitive.
Cliffs has said it will build the plant in Sudbury, but Bisson worries the company will try to get out of that commitment, with the help of the government.