Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-02-14 at 2:47PM

Forward progress?

Michael Gravelle makes an announcement Friday morning.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Michael Gravelle makes an announcement Friday morning.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

The province has hired a company to build its Ring of Fire development corporation and study proposed infrastructure projects in the area.

Announced late last year, the development corporation is looking to bring to together government, First Nations and industry to figure out the best way to build infrastructure to get in and out of the $60 billion region.

While no partners have signed on so far, Northern Development and Mines minister Michael Gravelle announced Friday that Deloitte LLP has been chosen to reach out to potential partners and out together the legal framework for the corporation and how it will be governed.

"We think this will actually help us move forward," Gravelle said.

Deloitte will also take a look at the various infrastructure projects proposed for the area and put together a technical report. Gravelle wouldn't say whether that report would be made public or if it would be making recommendations. The company will provide neutral, third-party expertise he said.

Noront Resources vice-president of Aboriginal affairs Glenn Nolan said it's a good idea to bring the company on board in order to get some clarity and direction in the Ring of Fire.

"We'd like to see the idea move forward, to advance. That's our only issue," he said.

As the only company that has a feasibility study done, as well as a submitted Environmental Assessment with a proposed East-West Road from Pickle Lake, they should be considered as the primary option when it comes to infrastructure.

"We're the only company that actually has anything of substance," he said.

Along with resource development, helping First Nations communities have access to that infrastructure is key.     

Opposition parties criticized the announcement as all talk and no action. In a media release, NDP Northern Development and Mines critic Michael Mantha said it's about consulting firms profiting while mining companies and First Nations communities are sidelined.

Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli (PC, Nipissing) says in the three months since the corporation was announced, no progress has been made.

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