Canadian Mining Journal


Open minds, open mines



meetings are usually far less important than those on the private side of the door think they are; but when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty recently slammed the door on the pestering media to talk about Ontario’s Ring of Fireand its vast chromium deposits, something worthwhile was actually up for discussion.

In fact, I applaud the two leaders for meeting (almost) secretly to talk about one of the hottest issues in Canada’s mining history. Ontario’s chromium is of world-scale proportions and, if and when developed, would put Ontario (and Canada) in the same league as Alberta and its oil sands when it comes to a national resource.

Both Prime Minister Harper and Premier McGuinty know this, and now it’s just a matter of developing a plan to develop this resource without upsetting those who think that mining is bad.

It’s not an easy task, and that’s why I think the recent “closed-door” meeting was tactically correct, because it gave both men a chance to roll up their sleeves and throw the whole matter on the table without fear of their every word being quoted.

First of all, I can almost hear both men quoting the Nike “Just Do It’” slogan as the two of them stretched back, hands clasped behind their heads, and talked about how the largest chromium deposit in North America would put both of them in the headlines around the world.

Closer to home, the issues raised by the First Nations’ people will, as a matter of course, be dealt with at a later date, as will those of different parties who are either dead set against mining (as I alluded to earlier) or want a piece of the pie – through no legal or rightful means.

Historically, both men have been quite skilful at getting what they want first, and answering questions later, when things are already in motion. Call it arrogance, or whatever you want, but at least some things (rightly or wrongly) do seem to happen when either Harper or McGuinty want them to.

Put the two on the same page (as I believe they are with the Ring of Fire and its chromium deposits) and it’s just a matter of time before the remaining infrastructure starts taking shape and “talks” resume with the concerned parties as the trucks start rolling.

It’s a sad way to run things, but in this case I’m agreeing with the Stephen/Dalton approach, because “talks” take too long and it’s time for action.

Just like Canada’s lakes and rivers, the Ring of Fire is a great asset that can be developed without substantial harm to the environment. I mention “lakes and rivers” in the same paragraph because I know they are two of the main concerns when the word “mining” is used; but I don’t think it is really anyone’s intention to hurt one resource for the sake of another.

Sure, there are many examples of where this hasn’t been the case, and I’m as disgusted as most people when I see pollution caused by mining; but in point of fact, times are changing, and stricter rules and regulations are making it painfully expensive for mining companies to hurt the environment.

Like all companies, miners are in the business of making money, and if the bottom line is being hurt by fines for land and water contamination, or other pollutants, they won’t stand for it. Plus, in almost all cases, huge amounts of money have already been paid to ensure these things won’t happen, and if they do, the “up-front” money is gone — and nothing infuriates management more than not getting their money back.

Prime Minister Harper and Premier McGuinty, like many politicians, are in this for professional gain, otherwise the Ring of Fire and chromium would be as dead an issue as dropping the GST; so let’s “Just Do It” and talk more later when many Ontarians (and other Canadians too) stretch back (hands clasped behind their heads) and think how lucky they are that open minds led to open mines.

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