Occasional contributor Stan Sudol proposed in 2011 a plan to maximize the economic contribution of mining in northern Ontario. Recently he updated the idea in light of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here is what he has to say.
There has been much commentary about healing and rapprochement with Canada’s First Nations due to the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on the horrific abuse Aboriginal children experienced at residential schools during the last century.
However, if Ontario, which has the largest population of First Nations people in the country, truly wants to make amends for the “sins of the past” than we need to look at “economic and social reconciliation” as our primary vehicle for restitution.
Until every First Nation community in the province has the same level of infrastructure and social services as non-Aboriginal towns and cities, most of the remorseful speeches by guilty white politicians are nothing more than “hot air.”
Without a doubt, some of the most destitute and impoverished First Nations communities are located in Ontario’s mineral-rich but isolated northwest, near the Ring of Fire – the most significant Canadian mineral discovery in almost a century – and in the regions to the west.
Almost a decade of political inaction by both the provincial and federal governments has caused Cliffs Natural Resources – a major American multi-national mining company – to abandon its $3 billion private sector investment in northern Ontario and miss out on the first part of a multi-decade commodity super cycle.
While the international mining sector is experiencing a very significant downturn – past commodity super cycles experienced similar “boom-bust” phases – it will recover as global populations keep increasing and urbanizing and countries like China, India and other developing nations continue to industrialize.
Since the lack of infrastructure was the primary non-political reason Cliffs decided to leave, damaging the province’s global reputation for mining investment, perhaps a new vision is needed to both restore our international standing as well as make amends to Aboriginal communities whose living conditions often resemble impoverished third world countries.
Read the rest of the two-part series at the RepublicOfMining.com/2015/06/18.
Even if access to the Ring of Fire had been provided by the provincial government absolutely nothing will happen there until the aboriginal problem is addressed by the federal and provincial governments. “Consult and accommodate” is a requirement which so lacks definition that it is nearly impossible to satisfy over the life of mining project. Moreover, the aboriginals have free legal service provided by the Canadian taxpayer.
Financiers and banker fully understand the ramifications of such a requirement. The 10 different tribes involved, will require various accommodations that will go on forever and probably, based on settlements elsewhere, mean ownership of all or a part of the access corridor is transferred to the aboriginals. Return of development money or dividends to shareholders becomes highly uncertain.
This explains why no new natural resource projects are developing in Canada, particularly Ontario.
If the Ontario government cannot fix the Solid Gold scandal (one band, +-120 FN Indians) they sure as heck cannot fix the ROF