The Canadian Government of Ontario has signed an agreement with two First Nation communities for a key road link providing access to the Ring of Fire, a mineral-rich location in the province.

The provincial government signed the agreement with Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation to advance with the planning of the proposed Northern Road Link.

According to the plan, the link will connect the proposed Marten Falls Community Access Road at the south with the proposed Webequie Supply Road at the north.

The Ring of Fire road project will improve connectivity and create jobs, as well as support the economy in Northern Ontario. It is also expected to facilitate the deployment of broadband infrastructure, benefitting local communities.

Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford said: “Our government is proud to partner with Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations to support the development of reliable, all-season road infrastructure and move forward with our shared goal of bringing economic prosperity to the region.

“Together, with First Nations partners, we are creating a clear path forward to unlock unprecedented social and economic prosperity in the Far North.”

Located around 500km northeast of Thunder Bay, the Ring of Fire covers an area of around 5,000km², offering chromite, nickel, copper and palladium deposits.

Webequie First Nation Chief Cornelius Wabasse said: “We believe that road development will help bring prosperity to communities across the region and better infrastructure, both on and off-reserve.

“We understand that road development will impact our traditional territories but believe this is a positive step forward to unlocking new opportunities that will benefit all surrounding First Nation communities.”

Last October, the Ontario Government Transportation Ministry opened applications for the next round of its Connecting Links programme. The projects are set to start later this year.