By Carl Clutchey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Northern Ontario,Information sessions regarding two proposed access roads in the Ring of Fire mineral belt are to be live-streamed next week.
The two routes that are part of what has been called the Northern Road Link project are currently being subject to an environmental reviews process overseen by the Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations.
The first road under consideration is a 200-kilometre all-weather link running north-south between the Marten Falls and Aroland First
The second route would run 110 kilometres east-west between Webequie and McFaulds Lake, the latter being the site of mineral deposits being developed by Noront Resources.
Located about 550 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, the Ring of Fire holds what are believed to be substantial deposits of copper, nickel and chromite, a key ingredient in stainless steel.
“In addition to opening the mineral zone to development, the roads would improve access to health and social services and provide infrastructure such as high-speed internet and reliable cellular service to numerous First Nations communities,” said a backgrounder about the project.
The proposed road leading to Marten Falls would help bring much-desired opportunities to its people, says the reserve’s chief.
Chief Bruce Achneepineskum described the possible road as “an economic lifeline for our communities (that) will bring jobs, training and prosperity where our youth currently have no opportunities.”
In December, Toronto-based Noront confirmed it had reached a proposed agreement with Australia’s Wyloo Metals for control of Noront and its Ring of Fire properties on an offer of $1.10 per share.
At the time, Indigenous observers applauded the remote region’s potential to produce metals in support of clean energy and combating climate change, with a notable caveat.
“Any corporation exploring development on First Nations traditional lands must seek the consent of the rights holders, and in the spirit of reconciliation work together with Indigenous peoples as partners,” said Jason Rasevych, spokesman for Anishnawbe Business Professional Association spokesman.
“First Nations must be major players in this development, and have a lead role in climate change mitigation, nature based solutions and reconciliation,” Rasevych added.
More information about the two proposed road projects is available online at northernroadlink.ca. The information sessions will take place Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. Both are to be live-streamed on the Northern Road Link website.
Carl Clutchey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.