Teamsters stand up for Timmins over Ring of Fire discovery
Union wants railway workers to benefit from a new rail line to Timmins
By Teamsters Canada news release / The Timmins Times
The Teamsters Union wants Timmins and Northern railway workers to benefit from the Ring of Fire chromite mining discovery.
Ottawa and Queen's Park must maximize the huge potential benefits of the so-called Ring of Fire mining discovery in the James Bay lowlands by preventing all the raw materials being siphoned off and sent to China, says the head of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees. The statement was outlined in a news release issued Thursday.
"Premier Dalton McGuinty's government has called the Ring of Fire the most promising mining opportunity in Canada in a century and yet we understand the plan is to send the raw materials to China to be refined," says William Brehl, president of the union representing maintenance workers on several short line railways in Northern Ontario, said the release.
"As mining operations begin in the next couple years, the same care taken to protect the environment should be taken to protect and promote the economy of Northern Ontario and the thousands of workers who lost their jobs a year ago in Timmins when the former Falconbridge refinery was closed down," he adds.
The Ring of Fire, about twice as large as Prince Edward Island, is said to hold one of the world's largest and richest deposits of chromite, the key ingredient in making stainless steel. It is also said to possess nickel, copper, platinum, gold, zinc and magnesium.
There is a plan to build a 350-kilometre rail link to haul 4-10 million tons of ore per year south to Nakina, Ontario, a stop on the main line of the CNR. From there, it would be taken to Prince Rupert, British Columbia where it would be loaded onto ships bound for China.
"There is a better way," Mr. Brehl insists. "At Nakina, CN should take the materials east, not west, to the Algoma Central Railway, which CN owns, then north to ONR (Ontario Northland Railway) and on to Timmins. The infrastructure is there. The trained workforce is there. The housing is there. The plant is there. All that is needed is the will of politicians to insist that business leaders do this instead of sending it all off to China.
"Ontario is saddled with a $19-billion deficit so maximizing the Ring of Fire benefits should be a no-brainer. And only in November, Ottawa blocked the hostile foreign takeover of Saskatchewan's Potash Corp. so it has some history in getting involved when Canada's natural resources are concerned," Mr. Brehl adds.