What is the Ring of Fire ? Why should we care ? Here’s the scoop !


After watching the MPP by election debates put on by the Chamber of Commerce this week, I realized my topic for the week had to be about the Ring of Fire. Topics usually fall into my lap and feel natural and well…..this is no different,  I just can’t believe I haven’t vested more time into understanding what the project is and what it means to SSM until now.  Having said that, I did a bit of research and I found some interesting facts about the project and how Sault Ste. Marie fits into the equation and why you and I should care.
First of all, the Ring of Fire is a future mining project that encompasses a large tract of land of Northern Ontario near James Bay. The district  holds vast deposits of minerals such as chromite, nickel, gold, copper and platinum and was discovered in 2007 by Canadian mining company NORONT. This find is estimated to be worth at least $60 billion dollars and may be one of the most important developments in Canadian infrastructure in quite a long time. The great news is that Sault Ste. Marie is in the rough copy of the blue prints, and as it stands is currently a  forerunner (in my opinion) of being the future home to a Ferrochrome Smelting Plant. This plant will process metals for their use in stainless steel products. The other three communities competing for this plant are Timmins, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay.

The plant would employee around 400 high paying skilled workers, and would inject $million$ of dollar$  into our local economy for many, many years. Aside from the obvious monetary benefits, having another major player in town would give us leverage and options when monopolies like Essar try and push us around. While their hand is stacked with a Royal Flush, we are left playing “52 Pickup”, and we keep getting kicked while we are down. They know they are the big fish in the our sea and are playing ball accordingly. If we had a few major players, we could call their bluff when they cry poor and play their shell game, but at the moment all we can do is suck it up, get wiser and make sure this doesn’t happen again. This is why NORONT is our new  Messiah, Saviour, Grand Poobah, or whatever name fanicies you !!!

The CEO of NORONT (Alan Coutts) was  recently in the Soo,  and in an interview with CBC radio implied,  (more than implied actually) that SSM has an edge over the other competing communities to have the plant built here. Among the most important criteria to be factored in are the fact that we are located on the American border and on the Great Lakes ; one of the their goals is to ship the finished product through the Great Lakes  to American companies. Another reason is that we already have a diverse and skilled workforce (familiar with steel making and it’s offshoot processes)  that is open and desperate to cooperate.
Through meeting local officials he was impressed with the fact that we would welcome the investment in our community and work with his company to bring the project to pass. It is anticipated that they want the future plant location to be known and cemented contract wise by the end of the summer. Currently NORONT is starting negotiating with First Nations officials in Northern Ontario to build all season trucking roads on First Nation Land to ship the refined minerals, and the fact that we have a strong proud First Nation community, only helps our chances.

We have everything he is asking for and it seems to me that if we put in the effort and lobby for this, there is no way the plant will not come here. It’s our game to lose, and in this case, losing would be unacceptable. Our community pride and our children futures are really at stake ; we have to quite being passive and get this thing done. I don’t care if we have to bribe, blackmail, extort, or beg, it just has to get done !

Mayor Provenzano, Mr. Sheehan, and the soon to be elected MPP, have to make this a number one priority in the next few months and never even consider taking their foot off the gas until the contract is signed. No room for error ; it’s overtime Baby !!!

Everyone in the Soo needs to push this forward and keep the momentum going , whether it is an email to the Mayor, MP, and the MPP’s  office ; let them know that we are watching.

Little by little, we need to start making investments for our future. For too long, all we have done was  study after study and nothing comes to fruition ; It just takes a few shovels, a few ideas,  a few chances, and most importantly, a strong local government !

It’s a chain reaction my friends ; once this ship gets turned around, (and it will !) it will sail itself. I just want to be alive to see it 😜….and in case you were wondering…….Yes the Ring of Fire was named after the Johnny Cash song ! (Noront founder Richard Nemis was fan of the late, great country singer) and named the mineral find accordingly.

Noront Inc, Welcome to Sault Ste. Marie. !!    Listen to the full CBC radio interview on this! CLICK HERE

Ernest Skinner Jr.


Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has traveled throughout Mexico and many South American countries.. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humor that was molded from shows like Seinfeld to The Simpsons. Ernest is a SaultOnline.com columnist


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