The provincial Liberals ignored the warnings and bungled an opportunity for billions of dollars of private-sector investment to develop the Ring Fire, says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.
Fedeli and the Progressive Conservatives were quick to blame the Liberal government Thursday for the decision by Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. to indefinitely suspend its planned chromite mine and Caperol processing plant.
“You guys just blew a $10-billion deal of a lifetime,” charged Fedeli during question period, noting Cliffs and other smaller players with interests in the site were prepared to to make that level of investment to mine and ship ore from the remote area in the James Bay Lowlands.
Fedeli suggested the Liberals have instead “dithered” for years on moving ahead with the development of the Ring of Fire. And he said the government did nothing when warned by Cliffs as recently as month ago that the project was in a tenuous state.
Fedeli said he visited the Ring of Fire site three times over the past five year and that each time there was less and less and activity.
Cleveland-based Cliffs made the announcement Wednesday that its affiliate, Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc., will suspend indefinitely its chromite project by the end of the fourth quarter.
As a result, the company will not spend capital for the project, given what it calls “the uncertain time-line and risks associated with the development of necessary infrastructure to bring this project online.”
In June, Cliffs suspended the environmental assessment activities because of pending issues impeding the progress of the project.
“We continue to believe in the value of the mineral deposits and the potential of the Ring of Fire region for Northern Ontario,” Bill Boor, senior vice president, strategy and business development, said in a statement. “As we’ve assessed the current challenges in the region and the costs to continue on the current path, we decided to suspend the chromite project indefinitely.
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