Railway union pushes to spike plan calling for shipping raw minerals by
rail and sea to China,
wants Timmins refinery re-opened, jobs returned to Northern Ontario
OTTAWA, Jan. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - 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.
"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.
"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.
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees Division
(TCRC-MWED), a division of Teamsters Canada, represents more than 4,000
maintenance of way workers at more than 20 short line railroads across
Canada, including the ONR, and at CP Rail, one of Canada's two main
railways. Its members are involved in inspecting, monitoring and
repairing the tracks, bridges and structures on the network.
TCRC-MWED's mission is to make sure that the railway is safe, in spite
of any economic, managerial or other obstacles.
SOURCE TEAMSTERS CANADA RAIL CONFERENCE, MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES DIVISION
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