Rick Millette is a senior executive director at the Ring of Fire at Northern Policy Institute.
TIMMINS – Fly in. Fly out. It’s been the mantra of remote mines since governments and industry realized they were often left holding the bag for mining towns when the minerals were gone. Roads, water systems and schools remained but were not sustainable by the few taxpayers left behind.
It was a hard lesson, so now fly-in operations make sense when an ore body might only last a couple of decades. A temporary camp can be built to house hundreds of workers with all the comforts of home and then be easily dismantled when no longer needed.
But what should the strategic policy be when an ore body is multi-generational? The Ring of Fire is a 100-year resource, with some claiming 200 years. That’s a realistic projection based on known mineral reserves and when compared to other large ore bodies like Sudbury.
Sudbury’s depth and breadth of minerals is nowhere near exhaustion after 131 years. In addition, the Ring holds more than chromite. A host of other metals are abundantly present, offering mining longevity in their own right.
All this to say that the Ring of Fire may not fit the model for fly-in mining camps. A mining resource that can sustain a community for a hundred years or more has time to diversify beyond dependence on its mining base. Sudbury and Timmins being just two examples in Northern Ontario. Read the rest of this entry »