Gravelle confident in the future of mining

gravelle - michael may 8Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle debates the issues at Queen's Park.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle is confident the mining activity will move forward in the Ring of Fire, despite recent delays.

"Cliffs Natural Resources announced a suspension of their environmental assessment process and indicated some other concerns. They also, at the very same time, made it very clear that they're very confident in the project, remaining committed to the project and certainly remaining very committed to the province," he said.

"There will be challenges along the way, but it doesn't change the fact that we're talking about opening a part of the province to potential development that's never been developed before. We need to make sure we get it right," he said.

Cliffs Natural Resources announced last week they were delaying their work, due to concerns over land surface rights and negotiations with the province. Gravelle says the province has been working closely with the First Nations in the area, in order to come to an agreement.

"We've been working very closely with the First Nations, particularly with the Matawa First Nations, which are made up of the communities that are going to be nearest to the development itself. Premier Wynne, Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer and myself met with the Matawa chiefs a couple of months ago. They brought forward some of the specific issues they want to see dealt with for the project," he said.

He says former premier and former federal Liberal Leader Bob Rae has been appointed as negotiator for the First Nations, and the province is working to appoint a negotiator as well. Gravelle says despite the delays, both sides do agree on the importance of the mining project.

"I think all of us agree on one thing, which is we need to make sure -- when we're moving ahead with a boom, and that opportunity is particularly related to the Ring of Fire -- we need to make sure that this provides real value to the communities that are affected," he said.

He also says other projects in the region, such as Rainy River Resources will have a large positive economic impact on the region. - See more at: