Ontario First Nations submit plan to access minerals needed for electric vehicles

Ontario is another step closer to developing the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in the remote northwest with terms of reference for a new road submitted for an environmental assessment.

“This is a move forward for us in terms of economic reconciliation, in alleviating the conditions in the community, the poverty levels we have faced,” Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of Marten Falls First Nation said Thursday. “There’s a lot of work to do.”

The Ring of Fire deposit holds minerals needed for the production of electric vehicles including: chromite, nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum.

Marten Falls First Nation and the Webequie First Nation are submitting the terms of reference for the so-called “northern road link.” The road would become the final all-season route out of the massive mining area, connecting to major highways that link to southern Ontario. It’s located about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

The distance of the northern road link is equal to driving from Toronto to Montreal, said Greg Rickford, minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

“We’re connecting industries, resources and workers in the north to the auto industry and EV battery manufacturers in the south so we can unlock the full economic potential of northern Ontario,” Premier Doug Ford said.

“We’re working side-by-side with our Indigenous partners to ensure that communities around the Ring of Fire have access to the roads needed not only to support development, but also to improve access to everyday essentials like fuel, groceries and health care.”

Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webique First Nation said the environmental assessment will incorporate Indigenous principles within the provincial oversight process and called it an “important milestone.”

Last month, auto giant Stellantis (parent company of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep) announced a $5 billion EV battery plant to be built in Windsor.


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