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Two First Nations in Northern Ontario announced Thursday that they are taking another step toward all-weather road access to potential Ring of Fire mine sites.

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The area about 500 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay is said to be rich in vital minerals and the province has made long-standing promises to develop and exploit the area.

Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations are co-leading planning for a Northern Road Link project, which the province says is the latest piece of critical road infrastructure.

Both First Nations have stated that they will submit terms of reference for an environmental assessment of the proposed road.

Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of Marten Falls First Nation said the project represents a potentially bright future for generations to come.

“We are running the Northern Road Link because the project is within our traditional territory and we are exercising our right to self-determination,” he said in a statement.

Premier Doug Ford said the road will be a lifeline for First Nations communities in the North.

“We are working side-by-side with our indigenous partners to ensure that communities around the Ring of Fire have access to the roads needed to not only support development, but also improve access to basic necessities like fuel, electricity groceries and healthcare,” he said. .

The region of northern Ontario north of Thunder Bay is home to some of the richest chromite, nickel, copper and platinum deposits in the world, valued at between $30 billion and $60 billion.

The province said the critical mineral deposits discovered in the Ring of Fire would help create unprecedented economic prosperity in the Far North. He said connecting the mineral-rich opportunities of the Ring of Fire to southern Ontario’s manufacturing sectors would help the province become a leading North American producer of critical minerals needed for electric vehicles and a clean economy.

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“Our government is committed to partnering with First Nations communities to build legacy infrastructure projects that will become the Corridor to Prosperity,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Resources natural and forest. “Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations are leading the environmental assessments because they share a strong vision of sustainable development and prosperity for their communities.

“I want to congratulate both communities for their extraordinary leadership and for reaching another milestone for this incredible opportunity.”

Twitter: @SudburyStar

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