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Ring of Fire, Ontario Canada

"The Ring of Fire, a 5,000-square-kilometre area in the James Bay Lowlandsin Ontario, holds a potentially massive chromite deposit. It lies on traditional First Nations territory"


The Ring of Fire refers to the massive planned chromite mining and smelting development project in the mineral-rich James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario, which is the "third largest wetland in the world" (Gov. of Ontario, n.d.). This is Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) and Omushkego (Cree) territory (Leahy, 2014). Challenges facing the development of the Ring of Fire include lack of access to the remote region, infrastructure deficits such as roads, railway, electricity and broadband, First Nations land rights, and environmental issues (Rocha E. et al., 2013). In 2010 and 2011 several blockades were set up by Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations. The Ontario Government has been using divide and conquer tactics in attempts to weaken opposition by First Nations.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ring of Fire, Ontario Canada
State or province:Ontario
Location of conflict:James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Chromites, Nickel, copper, platinum. Chromite is an iron chromium oxide: FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral belonging to the spinel group.
It is an important mineral for the production of metallic chromium, used as an alloying ingredient in stainless and tool steels.
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Ring of Fire is a massive planned chromite mining and smelting development project in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario (Gov. of Ontario, n.d.). Chromite is used in making stainless steel.

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Project area:1 500 000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:24, 000
Start of the conflict:08/2007
Company names or state enterprises:Noront Resources from Canada - Noront Resources Ltd holds 85% of all claims in the district. As a result of the 2015 acquisition of the Cliffs chromite properties and the 2016 acquisition of MacDonald Mines, Noront now has ownership or a controlling interest in all the major discoveries to date in the region
Cliff Natural Resources from United States of America - Was bought out by Noront Resources
Relevant government actors:Ontario Provincial Government
Federal Government
Nine Matawa communities: Marten Falls First Nation, Webequie First Nation, Neskantaga First Nation, Nibinamik First Nation, Aroland First Nation, Long Lake 58 First Nation, Ginoogaming First Nation, Eabametoong First Nation, Mishkeegogamang First Nation, and Constance Lake First Nation.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:CPAWS Wildlands League
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada
Stop the Ring of Fire – Water is Life – Anishinabek Rights Now
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations and other First Nations in the region
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Mine tailing spills, Global warming, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts, Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Other Health impacts, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development delayed
Proposal and development of alternatives:A report, co-authored by Wildlife Conservation Society and Ecojustice, recommended that Ontario conduct a regional strategic environmental assessment (R-SEA) that would investigate the potential social and environmental impacts of mining and associated infrastructure developments on the entire region (Leahy, 2014).
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Projects have been delayed but the situation in ongoing.
It's not clear what environmental justice could look like in this situation.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Far North Land Use Planning Initiative: The Far North Land Use Planning Initiative is about working with First Nations to identify where development can occur and were land is dedicated to protection in the Far North of Ontario.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Annual Report from the Environmental Commission of Ontario 2012-13 (with specific chapter on the Ring of Fire)
[click to view]

(Gov of Ontario, n.d.) Far North Ontario: Community based land use planning in the Far North of Ontario". Ministry of Natural Resources Ontario.
[click to view]

Ring of Fire lights up Northern Ontario's mining industry". Ontario Business Report. MRI.
[click to view]

(Matawa FN, 2013) Ring of Fire News: Removing our support, government is not listening".
[click to view]

(Tencer, D., 2013) Clement: Ontario 'Ring Of Fire' Will Be Canada's Next Oil Sands, The Huffington Post Canada
[click to view]

(Rocha E. et al., 2013). "Canada sees decades of gains from Ring of Fire deposit" Reuters Business News
[click to view]

Younglai, R., et al. (2015). "Cliffs Natural Resources completes costly exit from Ontario’s Ring of Fire". The Globe and Mail
[click to view]

(Talaga, T., 2010) "Natives lift Ring of Fire blockade". The Star
[click to view]

(Murray, J. 2011 a). "Marten Falls First Nation Starts Blockade on Ring of Fire." NetNewsLedger
[click to view]

(Murray, J., 2011b) "Marten Falls First Nation Statement on Ring of Fire Blockade", NetNewsLedger.
[click to view]

(Canadian Press, 2010)"Ring of Fire blockades lifted", CBC News
[click to view]

(Northern Ontario Business, 2018). "Lack of consultation on Ring of Fire development frustrates First Nation communities".
[click to view]

(Canadian Press, 2015). "Feds' Ring Of Fire Funding Gets 'F' From Ontario Chamber Of Commerce". Huff Post
[click to view]

(Gamble, J., 2017) "What's at stake in Ontario's Ring of Fire". Canadian Geographic
[click to view]

(Leahy, D., 2014). Ecologically Unique ‘Ring of Fire’ Needs More Study Before Development, Groups Say. The Narwal
[click to view]

(Chetkiewicz, C., et al., 2018) "A sustainable plan for Ontario’s Ring of Fire". Policy Options
[click to view]

(Ross, I., 2019) Rickford promises progress in the Ring of Fire, Northern Ontario Business
[click to view]

Ring of Fire Protest Planned in Sudbury
[click to view]

(McKie, D., 2013). "Ring of Fire mining may not benefit First Nations as hoped Internal memo from Aboriginal Affairs paints troubling picture". CBC News.
[click to view]

GETTING IT RIGHT IN ONTARIO'S FAR NORTH - The Need for a Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment in the Ring of Fire [Wawangajing]

(Report by Cheryl Chetkiewiczand Anastasia M. Lintner) Commissioned by Wildlife Conservation Society and EcoJustice
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

(Wilderness League, n.d.)
[click to view]

Ring of Fire. A six part series by APTN
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Jen Gobby
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:4016
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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