Arctic Fox

Northern Ontario is one of the few remaining refuges for Arctic Fox. The International Union for Conservation of Nature named the Arctic Fox one of 10 new climate change flagship species.

Ring of Fire Mining

Tens of thousands of claims have been staked throughout the northern half of Ontario's Boreal Forest. Mines have an enormous impact on the natural environment, especially when you take into account the infrastructure needed to operate a mine such as roads and transmission corridors. Typically, a mine operates for only 15-20 years. But its impact on the environment can last for centuries, which is why many mines need to be monitored for decades or longer after they close.

In northern Ontario, First Nations are the most affected by the presence of mines. First Nations have a constitutional right to be consulted on land use decisions that may impact Aboriginal and treaty rights.  The Ring of Fire is a crescent shaped area located approximately 240 kilometres west of James Bay and northeast of Thunder Bay. There is tremendous opportunity in the Ring of Fire to create new jobs in northern Ontario. 

The escalation in staking and mineral development has led to confrontations with some First Nations.  Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, a remote northern Ontario Aboriginal community, recently won the first stage of a controversial legal battle that could have major repercussions for mining and resource extraction operations throughout the province. In a landmark court decision, the Ontario Superior Court stated that no award of damages could possibly compensate KI for losses of cultural values if development proposed by Platinex Inc. (exploring platinum deposits) were to occur. The Court granted KI an injunction, thereby preventing the company from continuing work within KI’s traditional territory.

Click here for a map of the Ring of Fire.

With respect to the Ring of Fire activity, Ontario Nature supports the Matawa First Nations and the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council’s call for a Joint Review Panel and public hearings into the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the Cliffs Natural Resources Chromite Project. This project, the first in the Ring of Fire to undergo an environmental assessment, will see the creation of two open pit mines, a tailings impoundment area, an ore processing facility, a chromite processing facility and would cut a swath over 200 kilometres long through unroaded boreal forest to transport materials and people to and from the site.  It would open up an area of northern Ontario poised to become one of the largest mining centers in Canada. 

Ontario Nature is asking the governments of Ontario and Canada to conduct a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the entire Ring of Fire Area in order to determine what the cumulative impacts of piecemeal development will be on the environment and affected communities. We are pushing back against the very real possibility that the Cliffs Chromite Project will be fast tracked for approval through a limited environmental assessment.

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Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug’s (“KI”) Consultation Protocol

Ontario Nature supports Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug’s (“KI”) Consultation Protocol, which requires community consent prior to any lands and resource decisions and presents the process for decision-making. The KI community has voted in favour of protecting the 13,000 km2 that make up their traditional territory. 

KI traditional territory map
Click to enlarge

Marathon PGM-Cu Mine Environmental Assessment

Ontario Nature has been participating in the Environmental Assessment of the proposed Marathon PGM-Cu mine on the north shore of Lake Superior. Should it proceed, the mining operation would destroy more than 70 natural streams and ponds. The mine would be located roughly 10 km from the Peninsula Harbour Area of Concern, an area of Lake Superior already highly contaminated after years of industrial use.

Ontario Nature is trying to determine if the environmental costs of the project can be mitigated and if the benefits flowing to the town of Marathon and other local communities are sufficient prior to approval being given to the project.

 

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