"Ring of Fire", Northern Ontario
About The Northern Ontario Ring of
This web page was created as a personal project in preparation for a
visit to Webequie to assist in teaching at a Mining Matters (PDAC) Youth
Camp. Although I had heard about the Ring of Fire from the news, I
wanted to know more about what life is like in remote Northern fly-in
communities since I have only rockhounded in Northern Ontario in places
accessible by roads. This is the information I was able to glean from
the web. If there is any information that needs to be revised or
expanded, feel free to contact me. Since my visit, I have an even
greater interest in this area and would like to keep current. I believe
that all people living in Ontario would benefit from greater
understanding of what is going on in the North and that a better
North-South relationship needs to be developed. Elfi
For some images of
Webequie, click here.
|What is the Ring of
- an area in Northern Ontario in the James Bay
Lowland that has become an area of interest due to recently (2007)
discovered mineral deposits
- it is an area of about 20,000 square kilometers
(the size of Lake Ontario)
|Where is it?
- 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario
- 240 km west of James Bay
- 70 km east of Webequie
- in the James Bay Lowland
- west of Attawapiskat
- Kopper Lake, McFauld's Lake
- Muketei River
|What have they found &
what are the resources good for?
- Chromite is processed into ferrochrome used
in making stainless steel
- chromium oxide Cr2O3
- copper Cu
- copper sulfide mineralization
- Prominent copper sulfide minerals
include Cu2S (chalcocite) and CuS (covellite). In the mining
industry, the minerals bornite or chalcopyrite, which consist of
mixed copper-iron sulfides, are often referred to as "copper
- nickel Ni
- PGE ore - Magmatic
be needed to develop the resources?
- agreement between all of the parties
- trained workers
- young graduate students who are literate & tech savy
- rail line to take ore out and bring construction
material & goods in
- year round road
- extended airport / landing strips
- staging area at south end of transportation link
- mining equipment & buildings
- a smelter and an electric arc furnace complex
somewhere in the Thunder Bay area
- ore processing mill with a gravity separator
- crushers, concentrators
- power / energy sources
- coking coal / fuel as energy source for
- hydro-electric power
- flat muskeg swamp of the James Bay Region
- system of glacial eskers
- pristine lakes and forests
- part of the northern boreal eco-region
- for more info & photos of wildflowers, check out
http://www.ontariowildflower.com/index.htm#top - a great site
maintained as a hobby by Andy Fyon
- Matawa First Nations
- 9 communities including:
- Fort Hope
- Koper Lake
- Long Lake #58
- Marten Falls
I find out what's going on?
life like in the James Bay Lowland area? Some questions people who are
interested in learning more would like to know.
- What do kids do for fun? How do they plan for the
- How do people go to school, get medical care, do
- How connected are people to the rest of the
world? Is there easy free high speed reliable internet access? Is
there a public library, reading room for all community members to
use? Are resources in English as well as Oji-Cree?
- What organizations are involved? What do band councils want for
- How do people live? What do they wear? What do
they do for fellowship?
- What do people do? What jobs are there?
- What is family life like? How do you find a mate?
|How do you
& in the news?
involved and has an interest in the outcomes?
- First Nations communities
- mineral exploration community / Mining Companies
- Far North Act (Bill 191)
- The legislation proposes setting aside half
the Far North forests for protection.
- Environmental assessment
- Provincial Parks
- fish, birds, wildlife, reptiles, amphibians
- forests, soil, plants, wetlands, Boreal
- lakes, rivers
- headwaters of 2 major rivers flowing into
- naturalists / environmentalists
- Provincial Government
- Minister of Northern Development, Mines and
- Mining Act
- Federal Government
- mine railway could be qualified as a Canadian
Development Expense under the Income Tax Act
- tax ruling
- all Canadians
- our Earth / global environment
|Training & Employment
It seems that many
local papers & blogs are discussing the impact of resource development.
Besides an interest in self-determination, there seems to be great
interest in training for jobs in the natural resource sector.
Article in Native Journal, August 2010
Article in Wasaya In-Flight Magazine,
New & In the News ..... The Ring of Fire in Ontario
Winter operations on McFauld's Lake in
the Ring of Fire.
Ring of Fire mine,
railway 'will change live By: Ian Ross
Bob Middleton likens the discovery of chromite in the
James Bay Lowlands to the 1903 Cobalt silver discovery
that opened up Northern Ontario and created the great
mining camps of Timmins and Kirkland Lake.
The potential impact of a massive open-pit mine, ore
processing facilities and a railway into McFauld's Lake,
as proposed by Cliffs Natural Recources, will be a
life-style changer for many living in remote First
Nation communities, said the exploration industry
"It's going to change the economy of this whole region,”
said Middleton, director of Aboriginal and regulatory
affairs with Canada Chrome Corp.
Cliffs' $240 million
stock offer to Freewest Resources, which together with
KWG and Spider Resources, found some of the richest
chromite deposits in the world, will be voted on by
Freewest shareholders in January. The Freewest board is
recommending approval of the Cliffs offer.
Middleton outlined his company's role in a high-grade
chromite resource in the area now called the Ring of
Fire during a presentation at the Ontario Exploration
and Geoscience Symposium, Dec. 16 in Sudbury.
Canada Chrome is a subsidiary of KWG Resources Inc., one
of the companies involved in the $1.5 billion
development, which includes an $800-million mine
scheduled to go into production by 2015.
Cleveland, Ohio-based Cliffs, a global iron ore pellet
and coal producer and an established industrial railway
builder, is expanding into the stainless steel market
with the development of North America's first chromite
Chromite is processed into ferrochrome used in making
Canada Chrome will operate the mine and build a
350-kilometre long haul railway capable of moving
four-million tons of ore a year from McFauld's Lake to
Nakina in northwestern Ontario to connect with the
Canadian National Railway's (CN) main line.
Middleton said there is enough tonnage in the McFauld's
Lake deposits to see chromite production last 150 to 200
The economic and social impact will be far-reaching for
First Nations and northwestern Ontario communities.
The entire project will create 4,500 direct full-time
jobs with a multitude of spinoff employment.
In his meetings with local First Nation chiefs,
Middleton emphasized how critical the training will be
in laying the groundwork for a resident workforce.
"The kids that are in Grade 9 right now are going to be
the ones coming into the mainstream for employment five
Middleton is working with the Matawa First Nations, a
tribal council of nine communities include Fort Hope and
Marten Falls, to immediately pursue government job
"This (railway) route will change the lives of all of
these communities and for the first time bring everybody
together,” he said.
He anticipates there will be freight generated by other
miners and geographically isolated communities.
“It's going to open up everything. All the other gold,
copper, nickel discoveries will be serviced. All the
supplies will come north for building and construction,
bringing everything, including groceries.”
Two north-south routes have been proposed. The more-favoured
western corridor follows a system of glacial eskers, the
only high ground in the flat muskeg swamp of the James
The southern terminus is near the Aroland First Nation,
just west of Nakina. A former Buchanan mill site at
nearby Exton could be used as a staging area for
equipment and supplies heading north, said Middleton.
A long service road may run parallel to the track. In
late November, Cliffs officials considered placing a
smelter and an electric arc furnace complex somewhere in
the Thunder Bay area. It would produce as much as
800,000 tonnes of ferrochrome per year to ship to U.S.
stainless steel producers in the Great Lakes region.
An ore processing mill with a gravity separator is also
needed, said Middleton.
Where these facilities will be sited is an equally big
Thunder Bay seems to be the front-runner, but there are
some logistical snags.
"We originally thought this would all go down to Thunder
Bay where there's lots of power, people and we could
bring (coking coal) in by boat,” said Middleton.
But CN Rail removed the tracks last summer from its
Kinghorn line linking Longlac and Thunder Bay.
"It would have taken a cheque of $30 million to stop
them from tearing it up because they're selling the rail
to another project in the tarsands,” said Middleton.
“All that rail is leaving Ontario to go out to Alberta.
So that kind of killed an easy way of getting chromite
to Thunder Bay."
Middleton said shifting freight between CN and Canadian
Pacific Railway is an expensive proposition.
"It's starting to look like the Longlac-Nakina-Geraldton
area will become the focal point for processing,”
Middleton later said in an interview with Northern
Securing a large power supply is also a big
consideration. Middleton suspects there may be excess
hydro-electric power capacity in the Nipigon area left
over from demise of the lumber industry that could used
for ore processing.
The potential magnitude of the Canada Chrome project
stands to be a real game-changer when it comes to the
McGuinty government's Far North Act (Bill 191), not yet
enacted into law. The legislation proposes setting aside
half the Far North forests for protection.
While its implications worries many in the mineral
exploration community, Canada Chrome has safeguarded its
rail corridors by staking a string of claims from
McFauld's to Nakina, which they intend to drill for
Middleton said KWG will do what it takes to comply with
all environmental regulations, but added this is a major
mining project that will be recognized by Ottawa as
having national economic importance for First Nations.
"This project has to be paid attention to."
There are major rivers to cross including two that have
been declared provincial parks – the Albany and the
Baseline environmental work is already underway to study
the geochemistry of the lakes and streams in advance of
three years of major environmental assessment work
leading up to construction.
Middleton said he doesn't expect Bill 191 to have any
impact on the development.
While the project's size and impact could be eligible
for government infrastructure money, Middleton said if
they get an important federal tax ruling, the mine
railway could be qualifed as a Canadian Development
Expense under the Income Tax Act. This would allow the
project to be entirely privately financed through a
special flow-through fund.
Drilling in the James Bay Lowlands.
New Railroad Track Construction for KWG Resources, a subsidiary
of Canada Chrome, to the Ring of Fire in Canada
Resources, a subsidiary of Canada Chrome engaged Krech Ojard for
engineering services related to the construction of new railroad
track in Ontario, Canada which will reach Canada's 'Ring of
Fire' district, an emerging multi-metal exploration district in
the James Bay Lowlandsof Ontario.
Drill rigs were lowered into place along the proposed 350-kilometre long
route between Nakina and McFaulds Lake. Supplied by Canada Chrome
The Ring of
Fire, a vast area of pristine lakes and
wilderness more than 500 km north of
Thunder Bay, is thought to hold one of
the world's largest untapped deposits of
chromite, a metal used in the making of
Dr. David Robinson,
Ontario's Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery |
Dr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian
University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was
originally published in May 2010 issue of
Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal
a magazine that showcases the
mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and
One way to get attention in the mining world is to
mention the Ring of Fire. Apparently, it doesn’t
matter whether your column is really about the Ring
of Fire. Just mention this new wonder of the world
and you get noticed.
I am far too proud to use such a sleazy
technique, but the Ring of Fire (three mentions so
far) is an enormous opportunity for the mining
supply and services sector. In fact, the Ring of
Fire offers a chance to move Northern Ontario’s
mining supply and services sector to a new level.
Cliffs Natural Resources intends to process as
much as 800,000 tons of chromite annually, which
would place the company in fifth place among
producing countries – between Russia and Brazil.
Production at that rate could continue for a hundred
years. At 2007 prices, the annual value would exceed
$250 million. Current prices are lower but expected
to rise as demand for stainless steel surges.
For the province, developing the Ring of Fire
will produce a huge building boom. It will provide
jobs for miners and for the 1,200 people in three
small First Nation communities: Webequie, Neskantaga
and Marten Falls. Since these are fly-in
communities, the new mines will have to pay for
all-weather roads and a rail line.
Environmental groups are bracing to fight the
project. The province should respond by making
development in the Ring of Fire a model for mining
development around the world. Ontario could set the
standard and Ontario’s mining suppliers could become
the world’s leaders in sustainable mining
technology, community and environment.
If the Ring of Fire is to be a springboard for
the province, the government has to have a plan for
developing the supply sector starting now. It is a
mistake to think that the wealth from mining flows
mainly from developing the mines. In fact, the
supply industries already produce more value than
the mines in Sudbury. It is obvious that as
machinery makes labour more and more productive, the
real money is in building the machines, making the
communication systems, reconditioning equipment and
even in research and training.
The knowledge industries matter. The province has
an opportunity to make the Ring of Fire a
springboard for research and development. To borrow
a phrase from leading mining commentator Stan Sudol,
the province could make Laurentian University the
Harvard of Mining.
If Ring of Fire chromite is converted to
ferrochrome before it is shipped south, there will
be still more opportunities. Most chromite-producing
nations convert chromite to ferrochrome before they
ship it to China. It cuts transportation costs, lets
railcars run full in both directions and produces a
larger and more sustainable economic base.
But crushers, concentrators, smelters and
electric arc furnaces take a lot of power. If we
want to get really imaginative, there are huge peat
and methane sources that are in danger of turning
themselves into carbon dioxide as peat bogs dry out.
The region has good potential for wind power.
Creative use of wind, peat and methane could meet
demand and even earn carbon credits. A more
environmentally friendly solution might be to put a
small nuclear plant in. There will be more mines
near the Ring of Fire and there will be more
competition for the power in the Greenstone area, so
it doesn’t make sense to ship ore south just to take
advantage of a temporary surplus.
Facilities should be designed to have almost no
environmental impact. Towns should be designed so
than no one needs a car. They should run on
renewable energy. They should have greenhouses built
in. They should be designed from the beginning to be
recycled as tourism facilities when they are no
longer needed. There should be on-site university
and college training for everyone. All buildings
should have high-speed Internet. They should be
places where people want to raise kids.
And do we have to cut a monstrous scar through
the boreal forest for power lines, rail lines and
roads? Could we build a world-beating monorail, or a
cable-tethered heavy-lift balloon system?
The Ring of Fire gives us a chance to be the most
creative and most technically advanced mining
jurisdiction in the world – if we have the guts to
2010 Ontario Budget: Backgrounder
Creating Jobs Through New Investments in Postsecondary
Education and Northern Ontario
Enhancing Economic Development Opportunities (The
Ring of Fire)
$45 million over the next three years for a new
project-based skills training program to help Aboriginal
Peoples and northern Ontarians participate in and
benefit from emerging economic development
opportunities. This includes the Ring of Fire – an area
with potentially large deposits of minerals such as
chromite, nickel, copper and platinum. The program will
also help build capacity in the north to undertake base
mapping, develop resource inventories and gather other
information. This will support community land-use
planning and environmentally sustainable development
that benefit Aboriginal Peoples and northern Ontarians.
It will help to implement the proposed Far North Act,
The government will also appoint a Ring of Fire
Coordinator to work and consult with Aboriginal Peoples,
northern Ontarians and the mining community to encourage
responsible and sustainable economic development related
to the Ring of Fire.
First Nation protests occurred near
McFauld's Lake last week over an aggressive push by mining companies to
develop a chromite deposit. (Photo supplied)