Northern Ontario to be swallowed up in the Ring of Fire?

An area in Northern Ontario, located in the James Bay Lowlands, has been the centre of media attention and public scrutiny because of the thousands of mining claims that have been staked in the area.  The "Ring of Fire" is found within the pristine wilderness of Ontario’s currently industry-free Far North.  The area, surrounded by muskeg wetland that comprises one of the largest wetlands in the world, drains half of Canada’s largest rivers and is a massive store-house of carbon dioxide, while providing habitat to a variety of wildlife species.

Despite recent changes to Ontario’s Mining Act and the newly developed Far North Protection Act, both of which require extensive public consultation before development can occur, Earthroots is alarmed that the mining industry may be circumventing these laws.  Fears abound that the McGuinty government is viewing the Ring of Fire as a panacea to our economic woes, since the area boasts mineral potential that rivals those found in Sudbury.

 

The McGuinty government pledged that development in Ontario’s Far North would move ahead only through collaboration with local communities and a comprehensive land-use planning process.  The Ontario government also promised that these land-use planning and consultation processes would ensure the protection of at least half of the Northern Boreal from industrial uses.  Now, nearly 40 mining and exploration companies are active in the Ring of Fire, having staked nearly 2,000 claims and developed plans for rail/road corridors, before any consultation has occurred or land-use planning has begun.  

To make matters worse, the projects are moving forward so fast that scientists and First Nations are unable to record information on sensitive areas; environmental assessments remain incomplete.  The Northern Boreal, one of the integral safeguards against climate change, the origin of so much of our clean freshwater, and home to many of our species (including those at risk of extinction) deserves more than the McGuinty government is doing for it right now.  Earthroots will be following this issue in the coming months and will alert our supporters when we need their help in this fight to protect the natural environment and First Nations rights.

To read more about this issue in The Star, please click here.