Future development of the Ring of Fire will depend more on the business case for companies to develop the rich mineral deposit, than the role government has to play in the region, said Aime Dimatteo, director general of FedNor.
Dimatteo addressed the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, and echoed Bob Rae, now the chief negotiator for the Matawa First Nations in the Ring of Fire, regarding the government's role in the region.
“It is a business decision,” Dimatteo said. “Bob Rae is very right, in that in the end of the day the businesses will make the decisions on whether they're going to go forward with these projects.”
But in late 2013 Cliffs Natural Resources halted its $3.3-billion Ring of Fire development due to a number of hurdles including delays in the environmental assessment process and negotiations with the province of Ontario.
Dimatteo said FedNor has worked quietly to create the building blocks for the Ring of Fire development.
“We want to make sure we have all the elements in place,” he said. “We're trying to be as proactive as we can.”
So far, FedNor has invested $4.4 million to develop business opportunities for members of the Matawa First Nations in northwestern Ontario.
That investment has included a collaboration with Confederation College and Noront Resources, a junior minor with a number mining properties in the Ring of Fire, to train First Nations people for mining-related work.
FedNor also contributed to a recent Ontario Chamber of Commerce report on the Ring of Fire, that said the mineral deposit should be a national priority.
According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce the Ring of Fire is expected to generate $25 billion in economic activity across numerous sectors in the province over its first 32 years of development. In the same period, the Ring of Fire would generate an estimated $6.7 billion in government tax revenues.
The Ring of Fire is also expected to generate 4,500 to 5,500 long-term and well-paying jobs.