Cover: Ring of Fire: High-Stakes Mining in a Lowlands Wilderness by Virginia Heffernan

Ring of Fire: High-Stakes Mining in a Lowlands Wilderness

Heffernan, Virginia

  • A valuable discovery under the world’s second-largest temperate wetland and in the traditional lands of the Cree and Ojibway casts light on the growing conflict among resource development, environmental stewardship, and Indigenous rights

    When prospectors discovered a gigantic crescent of metal deposits under the James Bay Lowlands of northern Canada in 2007, the find touched off a mining rush, lured a major American company to spend fortunes in the remote swamp, and forced politicians to confront their legal duty to consult Indigenous Peoples about development on their traditional territories. But the multibillion-dollar Ring of Fire was all but abandoned when stakeholders failed to reach a consensus on how to develop the cache despite years of negotiations and hundreds of millions of dollars in spending. Now plans for an all-weather road to connect the region to the highway network are reigniting the fireworks.

    In this colorful tale, Virginia Heffernan draws on her bush and newsroom experiences to illustrate the complexities of resource development at a time when Indigenous rights are becoming enshrined globally. Ultimately, Heffernan strikes a hopeful note: the Ring of Fire presents an opportunity for Canada to leave behind centuries of plunder and set the global standard for responsible development of minerals critical to the green energy revolution.


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  • Virginia Heffernan is a former geoscientist with an M.Sc. from the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment and an MFA from the University of King’s College. Her articles appear in publications such as CIM Magazine, Explore, and the Globe and Mail. She lives in Toronto.

  • Published: March 2023

    ISBN: 9781770416741

    Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.

    Pages: 224


“Embedded in this volume, as in that region, are the principal issues of our time, skillfully and invitingly rendered by a field geologist turned business and environmental writer.” — Literary Review of Canada

“A signal contribution to an important public policy debate … and great fun to read into the bargain.” — Ken McGoogan, award-winning Canadian author

“A valuable, well-researched, and provocative book about northern Ontario’s resources and their potential to impact all of our lives.” — Charlotte Gray, author of Murdered Midas

Ring of Fire: High-Stakes Mining in a Lowlands Wilderness, a fast-paced, thoroughly researched, and ultimately hopeful account of a complex conflict between corporate interests and Indigenous rights.” — Queen's Alumni Review

“Anyone interested in the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Ontario, or the economy and ecology of the North, or the volatility of the mining industry should read this book … Policymakers at all levels of government would do well to listen to Heffernan’s advice.” — Kathleen Wynne, former premier of Ontario

“A wide-ranging and complex story, a crossroads where Indigenous culture(s), biology, geography, geology, and corporate interests come together. Heffernan navigates the stories and perspectives with remarkable ease and fluency.” — Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Canadian poet, ethnographer, essayist

“Heffernan does a brilliant job teasing out the key issues and relationships in the Ring of Fire. In the end, no one comes out unscathed.” — Pierre Lassonde, leading gold investor and philanthropist