About The Northern Ontario Ring of Fire

August 2010
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 Fire?
  • 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)
Map of Ontario: Location of the Ring of Fire
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
    • Chromite is processed into ferrochrome used in making stainless steel
  • chromium oxide  Cr2O3
  • copper   Cu  
  • copper sulfide mineralization CuxSy
    • 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 sulfides". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_sulfide
  • diamond
    • industrial uses
  • gold
  • nickel   Ni  
  • PGE ore - Magmatic nickel-copper-iron-PGE
  • palladium
  • platinum
  • vanadiaum
What will 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 processing
    • hydro-electric power


What's it like?
  • 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
Who lives there?
  • Matawa First Nations
  • 9 communities including:
    • Aroland
    • Eabametoong
    • Fort Hope
    • Ginoogaming
    • Koper Lake
    • Long Lake #58
    • Neskantaga
    • Marten Falls
    • Webequie
Where can I find out what's going on?
What is 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 future?
  • How do people go to school, get medical care, do shopping?
  • 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 the future?
  • 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 get there?


What's new & in the news?
Who is 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
  • Nature
  • naturalists / environmentalists
  • Provincial Government
    • Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry
    • 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, June/July 2010


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


Winter operations on McFauld's Lake in the Ring of Fire.
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 veteran.

"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 mine.
Chromite is processed into ferrochrome used in making stainless steel.
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 years.
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 years away."
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 training funds.
"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 Bay Region.
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 prize.
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 Ontario Business.
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 mineralization.
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 Attawapiskat.
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.Drilling in the James Bay Lowlands. (Photo supplied)



aerial image of Ontario


New Railroad Track Construction for KWG Resources, a subsidiary of Canada Chrome, to the Ring of Fire in Canada

Ontario, Canada

KWG 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
Drill rigs were lowered into place along the proposed 350-kilometre long route between Nakina and McFaulds Lake. Supplied by Canada Chrome



Aerial view of the Ring of Fire which is 5,120 square km of pristine lakes and rivers 500km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation land which both sit on a "world class" deposit of chromite. (March 18, 2010) 



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 stainless steel.

TANYA TALAGA/TORONTO http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/782678--natives-lift-ring-of-fire-blockade 

Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire, Ring of Fire – by David Robinson

posted in 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 Sudbury.  [email protected]

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 dream.


2010 Ontario Budget: Backgrounder
Creating Jobs Through New Investments in Postsecondary Education and Northern Ontario

source: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/budget/ontariobudgets/2010/bk_northern.html

Enhancing Economic Development Opportunities (The Ring of Fire)

Map of Ontario: Location of the Ring of FireProviding $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, 2010.

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.



source: http://www.jamesbayresources.com/images/map-ring-of-fire-big.jpg 

First Nation protests occurred near McFauld's Lake last week over an aggressive push by mining companies to develop a chromite deposit. (Photo supplied)
First Nation protests occurred near McFauld's Lake last week over an aggressive push by mining companies to develop a chromite deposit. (Photo supplied)