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Minister Rickford leads a charge in bolstering Ontario Mine Development

Oct 13, 2020

By Kevin Vincent
After languishing for nearly a decade and a half under Liberal party rule as one of the most challenging jurisdictions in the world to find and start a mine, Ontario is back in the game.
Jobs are being created. First Nations communities are benefiting. And contractors are flourishing.
It’s all part of the Ford government’s strategic commitment to revitalizing one of Canada’s economic powerhouses, Ontario’s resource sector, mining in particular.
Since he was named Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Indigenous Affairs, Conservative MPP Greg Rickford of Kenora has presided over three new mine openings – Harte Gold’s Sugar Zone, Newmont’s Borden Lake, and now, IAMGold/Sumitomo’s Cote Lake Mine.
That’s no accident. Since taking office, the Ford government made a commitment to reduce the nearly 300,000 provincial regulations that hamstring Ontario businesses.
To assist the mining sector, the government created the Mine Working Group, a cross-section of industry and community stakeholders, to assess those regulations and make recommendations to Queens Park. Rickford chairs those meetings and Premier Ford has made it a point to attend as many as possible.
The ministry has developed a set of policies to aid clients on implementation of relevant Mining Act provisions and regulations. Changes have been made to the Mining Act, including new regulations to promote mineral exploration and development in a manner that recognizes Aboriginal and treaty rights.
 “This has been a challenging time for this sector in this province and across this country,” Rickford said recently. Rickford said the impact of COVID-19 has had a profound effect on mining operations including production and financing.
Speaking at the IAMGold, Cote Gold ceremonial sod-turning event September 11th, Rickford said the project demonstrates the industry’s resilience and perseverance during trying times.

Focus on the opportunities not the issues

“It was only a year and a half ago, the Cote Gold project was at a standstill,” said Rickford. “And the future of the project and the jobs that come with it, were in jeopardy.”
“We know that it is through no small feat, what it takes to get a mine in the ground. It takes the collective efforts, including indigenous leadership, political leadership and especially Team Cote Gold for their perseverance and commitment to making this a realization.”
“It was indeed a year and a half ago that this project was buried in regulatory delays,” Rickford told the audience, which included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Our government was proud to step in and help advance this project with urgency. We actually developed a SWAT Team – it was an all-ministers approach across the government in Ontario – we committed to Cote Gold and we committed to the local (First Nations) leadership to cut through the previous government’s bureaucratic red tape and inaction that stalled this industry in Northern Ontario.”
Rickford says the Ford government is committed to standing alongside companies like IAMGold as they responsibly advance projects that will boost the province’s economy and provide jobs to Ontario families and simultaneously bolstering First Nations communities like Flying Post and Mattagami FN.
“We are proud to add Cote Gold to Ontario’s roster of mining success stories,” said Rickford.
Rickford also had a less than subtle message for other members of the audience suggesting it’s time the province focus on opportunities instead of minute issues.
His sentiment was echoed by the chiefs of the Flying Post and Mattagami First Nations who praised the company’s commitment to Impact Benefit Agreements that will funnel millions of dollars in construction contracts, jobs and other social benefits into their communities over the life of the mine.
Rickford also has his eyes on another potential region – the Ring of Fire. In his dual role as Minister of Northern Development as well as Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Rickford, a lawyer, is continually facilitating talks between companies like Noront Resources and the region’s First Nations leaders to try to develop a path to production.
The Ring of Fire, a massive chromite discovery, has been mired in delays for more than a decade. Rickford and Ford have committed to working with First Nations communities in the region, including resource-sharing agreements that would benefit those communities throughout the life of the project.     


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