Economic development officials in Sault Ste. Marie and Sioux Lookout, Ontario are partnering on a joint initiative to support the Ring of Fire. The proposal calls for a trans‐load facility to be established in Sioux Lookout, where raw materials can be trucked then transported via rail across the region.
To help move the project forward, and to represent his community at the project table, Tom Dodds, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, attended a meeting last week of the Sioux Lookout Trans‐load Facility Partners. While there, he met with First Nation and municipal representatives, along with the project’s business allies, to discuss the proposed trans‐load facility and the natural synergies that can occur by integrating Sault Ste. Marie into the transportation network.
If developed, the trans‐load facility in Sioux Lookout would enable mineral concentrate and ore to be shipped by truck from the Ring of Fire and loaded onto rail cars and transported throughout Northern Ontario for further processing. Sault Ste. Marie is interested in establishing a smelter to process chromium products supported by an intermodal train and marine transfer facility at the Port of Algoma for shipping to international markets.
Officials in both communities believe that the Sioux‐to‐Sault connection offers competitive advantages and opportunities for all parties. While it does not preclude provincial decision‐makers from selecting other routes, the due diligence conducted to date indicates that this approach is a competitive option.
“All communities interested in taking advantage of the Ring of Fire are responsible for making their own business case on the merits of their location,” said Dodds. “Having northern communities work together to make a competitive business case that provides lower costs and enhanced logistics makes good sense for business and affected communities. The welcoming reception that the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation received from Sioux Lookout leaders and Trans‐load Facility Partners was encouraging, thoughtful and positive. This is a committed group of people that want to work together. I was very impressed by the collaboration and progressive nature of all their efforts.”
This pan‐northern approach is contingent upon the Province of Ontario reaching a conclusion on a transportation corridor route for the Ring of Fire, a mining development with an operating life of at least 100 years. “I look forward to a provincial decision on the route in the very near future,” said Dodds.