Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.’s decision to abandon its mineral deposit in Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire underlines the mineral-rich region’s critical drawback: There’s no there there. And without co-operation from all levels of government and the First Nations, there never will be.
The Ring of Fire deposit is a potential $50-billion mining bonanza, teeming with chromite as well as nickel, copper and gold. But it’s in the middle of nowhere: 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, in a remote northwestern pocket of the province that’s more than 200 kilometres from the nearest highway. The area is populated by a handful of First Nations settlements, some small-plane landing strips, and a lot of wilderness.