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Noront would be happy to hear the province commit infrastructure funding for the Ring of Fire as soon as possible.
A panel, including Alan Coutts second from right, listens to a question Thursday evening. (Jamie Smith,

Noront would be happy to hear the province commit infrastructure funding for the Ring of Fire as soon as possible.

An 11-page budget schedule for the Liberal Party leaked earlier this month included a "financial commitment to road infrastructure" for the Ring of Fire April 17. Noront President and CEO Alan Coutts said while he can't speculate on what that announcement might mean, the province needs to ante up so that great opportunities, like Noront's $700 million Eagle's Nest project, can begin.

"What we'd like to see is the provincial government commit to putting funds to developing infrastructure into the Ring of Fire," he said

Thursday evening after a mostly closed-door panel discussion on the Ring of Fire that included Frank Iacobucci and Bob Rae.

"I'd be happy to hear dollars allocated to Ring of Fire infrastructure any day, any way."

The only company with an Environmental Assessment in progress, Noront proposes an East-West road built by the provincial and federal governments, along with other partners. The company would pay $10 million a year for the mine's first 11 years as a user of the road. A two-year construction period for the road could be done at the same time as the mine's three-year completion.

The road, along with the mine, could be built throughout the seasons Coutts said. If the environmental assessment wraps up later this year, the mine could be in production by late 2017.

"That's our hope," Coutts said.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Noront's proposal will be the one selected. It's possible that work might come down to the province's proposed development corporation. Work continues on what that organization might look like but Coutts said he's been assured industry will be a key proponent.

Coutts said a lot of the discussion Thursday, hosted by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, focused on the recently signed regional framework agreement signed between the province and Matawa Tribal Council. 

"We know we have clarity on how this is going to work and then we can develop our project in tandem with some of these partners," Coutts said.


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