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
NameRing of Fire, Ontario Canada
SiteJames 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 CommoditiesChromites, 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 DetailsThe 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.

This region holds one of the world's richest chromite deposits as well as nickel, copper and platinum, which have been variously valued at anywhere from $30 billion to $60 billion (Canadian Press, 2015).

It is considered "one of the largest potential mineral reserves in Ontario" with "more than 35 junior and intermediate mining and exploration companies covering an area of about "1.5 million hectares" (Matawa FN, 2013). By 2010, there were more than 30,000 claim units in the 5,000-square-kilometre area (Canadian press, 2010).

Development has been delayed for almost a decade by challenges of accessing remote regions and due to demands by First Nations for adequate consultation.

Noront Resources plans to open a chromite mine and send ore to a smelter either in Timmins or Sault Ste. Marie for processing. A ferrochrome facility would process chromite from the Ring of Fire.

The company at one time was also considering Coniston as the potential location for its chromite smelter, but earlier this year narrowed its list to the Sault and Timmins.
Project Area (in hectares)1 500 000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population24, 000
Start Date08/2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesNoront 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 actorsOntario 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 organisations and other supportersCPAWS Wildlands League


Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada




Stop the Ring of Fire – Water is Life – Anishinabek Rights Now
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations and other First Nations in the region
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
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-economic 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)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development delayed
Development of AlternativesA 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 as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Projects have been delayed but the situation in ongoing.

It's not clear what environmental justice could look like in this situation.
Sources and Materials

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]


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


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

(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]

(Ross, I., 2019) Rickford promises progress in the Ring of Fire, Northern Ontario Business
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(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". SooToday.com
[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
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(Leahy, D., 2014). Ecologically Unique ‘Ring of Fire’ Needs More Study Before Development, Groups Say. The Narwal
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(Chetkiewicz, C., et al., 2018) "A sustainable plan for Ontario’s Ring of Fire". Policy Options
[click to view]

Ring of Fire Protest Planned in Sudbury
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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]

Media Links

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

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

Other Documents

Ring of Fire development work Sourced from: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/article/first-nations-cant-veto-ring-of-fire-development-in-northern-ontario
[click to view]

Landscape in Ring of Fire area sourced from: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/29/ontarios-ring-of-fire-development-plan-has-major-flaws.html
[click to view]

Ring of Fire Map Source:https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ring-of-fire-mining-may-not-benefit-first-nations-as-hoped-1.1374849
[click to view]

Stop the Ring of Fire https://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/ring-of-fire-protest-planned-in-sudbury
[click to view]

Ring of Fire Map A map showing current (2017) mining claims on Treaty 9 territory in Ontario's Ring of Fire.(Map: Chris Brackley/Canadian Geographic)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJen Gobby
Last update13/03/2019