The Ring of Fire is the name given to a new arc shaped mining district in the heart of Ontario’s Far North. Located approximately 500 km NE of Thunder Bay, it’s been lauded for its potential in terms of chromite deposits and other industrial metals.
What is less well appreciated is that the Ring is located in the heart of an irreplaceable environmental treasure. This wilderness of trees, wetlands, lakes and rivers is part of the planet’s largest intact forest. It supports hundreds of plant, mammal and fish species, most in decline elsewhere, and is the continent’s main nesting area for nearly 200 migratory birds. For some species, it’s the last refuge. As one of the world’s largest storehouses of carbon, it helps keep climate change in check. It stores more fresh water in its lakes and wetlands than any other terrestrial system on Earth, and contains six of 12 of North America’s most important rivers.
Over 24,000 First Nations people scattered in 34 small communities call these their ancestral lands. They depend on wild fish and animals for food and have inherent rights to the land.
There is a lot of pressure to get shovels in the ground as soon as possible and build new mines. But acting in haste would be a mistake. The Ring of Fire’s mineral wealth isn’t going anywhere. But there’s great potential for devastating damage from a stampede to develop it. Missed hearing Janet at a recent law symposium in Thunder Bay? No fear you can catch her comments on line here.
Above: See where the Ring of Fire is in Ontario &
potential infrastructure corridors. Click on image to
see the full map.
We care because this region is one of the largest intact areas left on the planet. Industrial resource extraction must meet the highest standards in the world and would only proceed after an over-arching plan to protect the ecological and cultural values for the region is in place.
Ontario needs to take a long term view to ensure local First Nations are respected and the environment is protected. Not many people realize this but the DeBeers’ diamond mine and future diamond mines and proposed Ring of Fire mines to extract nickel, copper and eventually chromite are in the same watershed–the Attawapiskat. And there is no plan in place to make sure that this watershed will be protected in the long run.
The stakes here are high, ecologically, culturally and economically and we want to help Ontario get it right. To learn more read a blog published by Wildlands League’s Anna Baggio in The Huffington Post Canada called Digging into the Ring of Fire.
A regional strategic environmental assessment (RSEA) is needed to properly protect the ecological and cultural values of this region before any new mines or infrastructure corridors are built. The assessment must:
You can learn more in our full colour 12 page publication here and in a recent publication by Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and Ecojustice on how Ontario can get it right in the Ring of Fire here.Take Action