THUNDER BAY, ON --- June 26, 2012 --- Ontario can change course from its slide to rust-belt status, but only with the courage to seize opportunities that lie dormant all around us, PC Leader Tim Hudak said today.
Hudak, a former Minister of Northern Development and Mines, made the comments after returning from the Ring of Fire – a vast, untapped deposit of chromite, nickel, copper, zinc and iron ore in the James Bay Lowlands. Chromite is now especially valuable because it is essential for making stainless steel, in huge demand worldwide because of rapid growth in developing countries. Ontario stands to gain 50,000 direct and indirect jobs, and potential economic activity of hundreds of billions of dollars, by moving the project forward, Hudak added.
“In 2001, Ontario was the world’s Number One in mining,” Hudak said. “By last year we had slipped to twenty-third, thanks to years of high taxes and electricity costs and over-regulation – and a government that seems to think mining is a dirty ‘sunset industry’. That’s wrong. This is a once-in-a-century opportunity for Ontario – but only if the Premier takes the lead in selling it.”
Yet, Hudak said, this isn’t just the North – it’s about all of Ontario: “The economic activity generated by projects like these has ripple effects across a variety of sectors, from manufacturing and high tech to financial services, where the TSX is the world’s largest mining exchange. That’s why the Ontario PC Party won’t apologize for its historic enthusiasm for this industry.”
Hudak was accompanied to the Noront Resources Ltd. site by PC Northern Development and Mines Critic Norm Miller, Energy Critic Vic Fedeli and Natural Resources Critic Laurie Scott.
“This government has paid only lip-service to the Ring of Fire,” Miller said. “The PC Caucus is not content simply to manage our decline – or to speed it up as the Premier is doing, with more business taxes, higher energy costs, and arbitrary limits on Northern development. The Premier’s dismissive talk of ‘pulling stuff out of the ground’ sends the wrong signal to businesses and investors who can ignite the Ring of Fire, leading to decades of job creation.”
Key to that will be affordable energy, Fedeli noted. “But the huge spike in energy costs under this government is driving processing out of Ontario – not drawing it in.” Scott added that resource development has always been one of our strengths for creating jobs: “But it has to begin by seizing on advantages and opportunities that are right under our noses.”
Developing the Ring of Fire is a priority because of the competitive advantages Ontario would enjoy in the global chromite and base metals market, Hudak added. “We are a far more secure source of supply than Africa and Central Asia, where most chromite comes from now.
“So we will champion the Ring of Fire as part of our call for action to seize on this dormant competitive advantage and create jobs. It’s time to break a new frontier – and swing our doors wide open to the world again.”