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Ring of Fire product should be processed in Ontario: NDP

Northern Ontario’s loss could well be China’s gain, and that has NDP Leader Andrea Horwath up in arms.
FILE -- Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. (

Northern Ontario’s loss could well be China’s gain, and that has NDP Leader Andrea Horwath up in arms.

Horwath on Tuesday said a plan by Cliffs Natural Resources to partially process chromite mined in the Ring of Fire, then ship the resulting concentrate to Asia, should not be allowed. The fact the province hasn’t stopped the idea in its tracks says a lot about its commitment to employment in the North, she said.

“Resources mined here should be processed here, plain and simple,” Horwath said in a release.

“The unwillingness of the McGuinty Liberals to stand up for hundreds of value-added jobs is alarming.”
Horwath and Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci went toe-to-toe at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, with the former questioning if the government plans to approve Cliffs plan, which was confirmed by the Sudbury Star last week.

Bartolucci said chromite mining has vast potential in the North and has an immense economic impact possibility.

“We will ensure that we get the process correct,” said Bartolucci, all but dodging her question, promising to consult with First Nations communities and engage with industry before any decisions are made.

“We will ensure that we maximize the potential for job creation for Ontario.”

Horwath then said Premier Dalton McGuinty has committed to leading edge jobs in the Ring of Fire, but this decision by Cliffs – which would likely need an exemption under the Ontario Mining Act – flies in the face of that philosophy.

“Is the premier going to allow good, leading-edge processing jobs to leave Ontario or not?” she asked.
Bartolucci responded with a partisan swipe at the New Democrats.

“I’m glad that the leader of the third party understands the importance of this, because what we won’t do is what the NDP would do. They would build walls around Ontario. They would ensure that people like workers in Northern Ontario at the Xstrata smelting and processing plant would lose jobs, with their philosophy and their policy,” he said.

“We’re not going to do that.”

A recent Star article quotes Cliffs senior manager of global communications Pat Perisco, who said company officials believe by at least partially processing the ore in Canada, they are OK under the Ontario Mining Act requirements.

"We believe that concentrate is an established product in world markets and the material mined will have undergone significant value-added processing," Persico said in an email exchange with the Star.

"Of course, the company will abide by all laws as they may pertain to any aspect of our business."

Since Cliffs first staked its claim at the Ring of Fire, they’ve proposed building a ferrachrome processing facility in the North, a move that would create up to 500 jobs.

The company has listed Sudbury as its base case site, though Thunder Bay and Greenstone are also believed to be in the running.

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs said he wants to reserve comment at this time.

"Exemptions under the Mining Act are under the purview of other levels of government. Everyone knows where I stand on the processor location," he said, reached via email

MPP Bill Mauro could not immediately be reached for comment, though a staffer said she would foward the information on to him.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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