Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced on Wednesday that it would stop developing the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in Northern Ontario, dealing a blow to the provincial government’s plans to tap the resource-rich area and grow the local economy.
The Ring of Fire deposit of chromite, nickel, copper, zinc and gold is located about 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay and has an estimated value of between $30-billion and $50-billion.
But a slump in commodity prices, along with difficult negotiations between the Ontario government and the nine First Nations governments that surround the deposit, have delayed development for months.
“As we’ve assessed the current challenges in the region and the costs to continue on the current path, we decided to suspend the chromite project indefinitely," Cliffs said in a statement late on Wednesday. “There is no restart date planned.”
The Cleveland-based company already suspended its environmental assessment because it was waiting for the province and the First Nations to reach an agreement on how to develop the deposit, most of which is not accessible by road.
The company said it will stop work by the end of the year and close its offices in Thunder Bay and Toronto as well as its exploration camp site.