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One of the biggest issues with the Ring of Fire development and the surrounding Aboriginal communities is the lack of competitively priced electricity and the enormously high cost — about one billion dollars — of connecting the region to Ontario’s power grid.
Currently, isolated First Nations depend on very expensive diesel fuel that must be supplied by trucks on winter roads or flown in. The proposed mining operations are projected to need about 30 megawatts (MW) of power.
Amazingly, most of the swampy lowlands and many parts of the Canadian Shield throughout northern Ontario contain a source of energy that has been used for centuries in Europe — peat fuel.
This slowly renewing bio-mass energy source — distinct from fossil fuel — is formed from the partial decomposition of plants under very wet and acidic conditions. It is usually made up of two separate layers, the top being lighter in colour, less decomposed and used primarily for horticultural applications while the dark dense lower layers are excellent for fuel. Peatlands can be described as a wet spongy “floating carpet” of land and are often known as bogs, fens, mires, moors, or in Canada, muskeg.