Cliffs environmental affairs director Jason Aagenes.
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Ontario needs to intervene if it wants to see a major project in the Ring of Fire go ahead.
That's according to Cliffs Natural Resources, which holds massive chromite deposits in the area. The company has appealed a decision by the provincial mining and lands commissioner that put its plan for an all-weather road, and the project, in jeopardy.
"If there's no access with the road we potentially don't have a project," Cliffs environmental affairs director Jason Aagenes said Tuesday.
"There hasn't been a deadline or an ultimatum but we've been very clear with the province this is a problem."
KWG Resources staked claims for the road for its own plan to run a rail line to the area. But from Cliffs perspective, rail is not a viable option for the project.
Aagenes said having Cliffs buyout KWG is also not an option as there are other companies with claims along the same corridor, which could see similar intervention by the provincial commissioner.
But there are plenty of options for the province to step in as the mining claims are all on Crown land Aagenes said.
"The province has the ability to expropriate land. They also have the ability to withhold a portion for infrastructure development," he said.
Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said he understands Cliffs' frustration and that the province is committed to getting the project right, with infrastructure being a top priority.
His ministry is looking at several options to find the best role Ontario can play in getting people into and out of the development. It's about creating the greatest benefit for everyone involved he said.
"At this point I'm not in a position to give you any particular details," Gravelle said of what the options might be.
In the meantime Aagenes said it's spending a lot of money and resources every day while it waits.
"We need to keep our options open and really see how much longer can we sustain this current spend rate," he said.
But the company still sees the project as an attractive one and is focusing on engaging the province to find a solution he said.
Cliffs has explored every transportation option for the project. From using ships in James Bay to hover barges to navigate the swampy areas of the lowlands around the project. An all-weather road running north and south is the only viable option Aagnes said.
Noront Resources has proposed an east-west road for its Eagle's Nest project, but Aagenes said that would increase costs for shipping that makes the project unfeasible.
Ontario's Liberals also faced questions on its handling of the Ring of Fire by members of the opposition in Queens' Park Tuesday. NDP Northern development and Mines critic Michael Mantha accused the government of misleading people in Ontario by claiming
A deal had been reached with Cliffs a year ago only to see the company threaten to pull out of the project.
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