Ring of Fire Development Would Create Opportunities in Windsor-Essex, Says Chamber
Friday, February 21, 2014
The Windsor Star/Brian Cross
Though the mineral-rich Ring of Fire is 1,500 kilometres away in remote Northern Ontario wilderness, Windsor-Essex could gain business and jobs if it’s developed, according to the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a massive project, it’s one of the biggest in the world and it’s a tremendous opportunity for not just Northern Ontario, but as a wealth generator in the province of Ontario,” the chamber’s president Matt Marchand said following the release of a report on the economic potential of the Ring of Fire.
The report projects 5,500 new jobs being created and $2 billion in tax revenues in the mine’s first 10 years of operation. As well, it predicts more than $25 billion generated in a variety of sectors throughout Ontario during the first 32 years of operation, including $600 million in manufacturing.
“Hopefully, we can get a piece of that here in Windsor-Essex,” Marchand said, suggesting that Windsor’s expertise in manufacturing and tool and die put this area in a good position to grab some of the work required new mining operations are opened up.
“There will be machinery, equipment, tooling, all sorts of things we do pretty well around here.”
The report comes from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, which is trying to speed up development of the Ring of Fire, a 5,120-square-kilometre area 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and 330 kilometres from the nearest road.
Significant deposits of copper, zinc, nickel, platinum, vanadium, gold and — most importantly — chromite (used to make stainless steel) have been found there. But development has stalled recently, largely due to the lack of infrastructure such as roads, rail lines and transmission lines. The report calls for the province and feds to step up with money and a plan to bring the infrastructure to the area. It’s money the governments will recoup through taxes, it suggests.
“Our study makes it clear that the short-and-long-term impacts of the Ring of Fire extend far beyond mining,” Ontario Chamber CEO Allan O’Dette said in a release. “It’s time to broaden the Ring of Fire conversation to include all of Ontario, not just the far north.”
The Windsor-Essex Chamber wants to build awareness about the project and help businesses understand the economic benefits to Ontario and Windsor-Essex, said Marchand.
“Things are moving rather slowly and what we’d like to do is pick up the pace.”
It’s too early to estimate how many local jobs would be created by developing the Ring of Fire, said Marchand.
“They’re going to need all sorts of manufactured equipment, these mining operations are manufacturing intense, so there will be an opportunity for Windsor-Essex suppliers to participate, to get involved.”
The report Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire says:
- The Ring of Fire will generate $9.4 billion in Ontario gross domestic product, $6.2 billion for Ontario’s mining industry, 5,500 jobs annually and $2 billion in tax revenue during the first 10 years of operation.
- It will generate $2.7 billion for the financial services sector, $600 million for manufacturing and $500 million for the utilities sector during the first 32 years of operation.
- The Ring of Fire has at least 220 million tonnes of chromite, a key material needed in the production of stainless steel. About 22 million tonnes are mined throughout the world annually.
- The economic projections are based on known deposits in the Ring of Fire, but several mining experts predict that the true value of mining deposits may double or even triple over the next century.