TORONTO, April 28 The government of the Canadian
province of Ontario said on Monday it was prepared to spend up
to C$1 billion ($900 million)to develop transportation
infrastructure in the Ring of Fire, a nascent mining district in
the north of the province.
Government support for badly needed infrastructure could
revive the fortunes of projects in the remote region, like
Cliffs Natural Resources' Black Thor chromite project,
and those of smaller companies like Noront Resources Ltd
that are focused on the area.
Ontario said it is calling on Canada's federal government to
"equally match" its funding. The province is creating a
development corporation for the region.
The 4,000 sq km (1,500 square mile) Ring of Fire is home to
rich mineral deposits, and lawmakers say it could bring
prosperity to northern Ontario much like the tar sands have to
northern Alberta. But the swampy region lacks highways, rail
lines or reliable power.
Cleveland-based Cliffs suspended most work on the $3.3
billion Black Thor in June, citing stalled talks with the
province and other political and regulatory problems. It has
struggled to win over aboriginal communities in the region.
Chromite, used to make stainless steel, is a new commodity
for Cliffs, which supplies steelmakers with iron ore and
metallurgical coal from its mines in Canada, the United States
Noront's TSX Venture-listed shares rose 9.1 percent to 60
Canadian cents on Monday. Cliffs was down 3.7 percent at $17.33
on the New York Stock Exchange.
($1 = $1.10 Canadian)
(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Bernadette Baum)