Tbnewswatch Local News
Monday July 6 2015
11:40 AM EDT
2014-08-05 at NOON

Minister may need to settle Ring of Fire access debate

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- It may now be up to Bill Mauro to decide whether the Ring of Fire is accessed by rail or road.

That responsibility was forwarded to Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry after the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last week sided with a Cliffs Natural Resources appeal.

Cliffs had appealed a decision by the Ontario Mining and Lands Commission that was made earlier this year. 

The courts became involved after KWG staked a narrow north-south corridor into the Ring of Fire in 2009 for a proposed rail line. Cliffs argued that rail is too costly and wanted the province to step in to either expropriate the land or hold a portion of it for infrastructure.

The lands commission sided with KWG but the divisional court decision set that aside and side with Cliffs.

"Whether or not it is in the public interest to grant easement for a road is a matter for the Minister of Natural Resources to determine, after an environmental assessment and consultations with First Nations and other affected interests," the decision states.

KWG says its lawyers are reviewing the decision.

Meanwhile, Mauro said there would be a lot of planning processes, assessments and consultation needed. But the ruling does help clarify that the authority to grant easements rests with his ministry.

"It clarifies things but it's still early stages," he said.

Northern development and mines minister Michael Gravelle said it's ultimately up to Cliffs whether the company wants to go down that road.

"Cliffs themselves will need to decide as to what course of action they're going to take," he said. 

Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error



We've improved our comment system.
mcse1999 says:
At some point (should this project get off the ground) and given the nature of what they intend to do here, both rail and road access will be required. I should point out though that the cost to construct new rail infrastructure runs at approximately $1.5 million per mile. I have no idea what the costs of a vehicle roadway are.
8/10/2014 12:06:29 PM
A rail line is the best option. As stated here if its a road it will be more costly to move raw ores.
Both would be nice, but not necessary. I think First nations will be unhappy if its rail, but citizens of the First Nations and any cargo can take rail as well. Just not as convieniently.
To add travelling roads in the winter is dangerous for domestic use, especially mixing with large commercial vehicles. There are costs associated with road maintenance, policing costs ploughing etc etc.
If there are accidents on the road then the Goverment gets fingered on that too!
8/6/2014 7:05:24 PM
Royalflush says:
ANVIL OF CROM, absolutely correct.
Without the ring of fire, there would never be a viable financial reason to build a road, or a railway. So the most econmical way to haul ore is by rail, after all that is what is going to finance the cost of the line in the long run. Eventually, perhaps a road along side the rail line, when tax revenue from employees is sufficient to warrant a road
8/6/2014 11:07:15 PM
The Beaver..... says:
There really is not much of an argument in favour of a Road. If anyone has ever been up there and seen and understands the never ending deep
Muskeg then really there is only one way to go. If KWG takes the matter of the claims it has staked on the only Esker in the region to Court it will sit here for years to come. To deny and revoke legally established claims is like denying Motherhood. Cliffs is no longer a Player in the ring of fire
it is fighting for its survival in the Boardroom, and Shareholder discontent.
8/6/2014 12:50:12 PM
j_northey says:
Hopefully Mauro remembers what I argued in every debate last election - namely that rail is far, far cheaper in the long run than a road is. The spread per year is roughly $150 million in maintenance, thus in 10 years any difference in initial cost is cleared. Given the Ring of Fire will last more than 10 years any decision other than rail is a short sighted (and expensive) one.
8/6/2014 9:16:21 AM
udecide says:
" up to Mauro ", good night Irene LOL
8/6/2014 9:11:05 AM
lykarock says:
If the only reason KWG staked the land was to block another company with a greater stake in the project to be blocked from producing their on their claims, then the Govt should allow an easement for Cliffs to build their road. Its not that KWG appears to have the money to build a rail line anyway. They had said before that Cliffs could buy them out if they wanted the staked property, if memory serves me. If the road is built it would open up the northern corridor to more than just Cliffs and the other mine producers. It would allow access for the First Nations people as well reducing the cost of everything from housing to fuel and open up the area that is usually inaccesable, other than by air, for 8 months a year. Maybe they could even build the nuclear waste respostory way up north away from the Great Lakes at the same time.
8/6/2014 6:17:51 AM
ranma says:
As long as the OPP enforce the law, it does not matter what kind of transport goes up there. Anything will be helpful to bring down the cost of living to the remote reserves. A road would be best for the reserves for transportation of goods, but rail would be best for the corporations.
8/6/2014 1:14:10 AM
Jim Halpert says:
Okay Mauro, time to put on your big boy pants and make a decision.
8/5/2014 9:37:25 PM
captain says:
well you seem to have big boy pants on. What is your decision. I predict this. No matter what decision is ultimately made, Mr. Mauro will get it wrong to hundreds if not thousands of people because it seems no politician can ever make any decision or do any work that makes everyone happy. In any decision you will always have people who will complain, especially on this site.

So do you want Mr. Mauro to make an arbitrary decision on this matter immediately and be accused of not consulting stakeholders or do you want him to consult with everyone and be accused of taking too long to make a decision. After all, he has been the Minister for what, a month. Plenty of time to decide an issue that has been on the agenda of others for almost a decade.
8/6/2014 1:27:11 AM
freedom54 says:
It would make more sense to use rail to move the material from the mine site directly to the refining facilities. Instead of trucking it to Nakina then being loaded onto railcars and transporting it to the refinery.

A road could be built eventually but it should be limited to lighter (non ore carrying) vehicles.
8/5/2014 8:11:21 PM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Log In