TORONTO – The head of a Canadian mining company sees no harm in a promotional video featuring two women in bikini tops, crop tops and shorts extolling the virtues of the so-called Ring of Fire — sex sells, he says.
“Attractive women attract eyes,” KWG Resources (TSXV:KWG) CEO Frank Smeenk said in an interview. “All junior companies trying to raise capital for exploration are always trying to figure out how to bring attention to their stories.”
The video, entitled “5 Interesting ‘Ring of Fire’ Facts,” has been criticized by some editorials in mining and northern Ontario publications as “archaic and humiliating” and not “socially progressive.”
Smeenk called the criticism “a bit over the top.”
In the video, one of the women, Theresa Longo, stands on a dock and notes that comparisons have been made between Alberta’s oilsands and northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire — a mining area about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., that holds one of the world’s richest chromite deposits as well as nickel, copper and platinum.
A second woman identified as Ashley sits on a lakeside swing and says that First Nations are “interested in sharing in the resources.”
The video is part of a Mining Minute series on KWG Resources’ YouTube channel and is in contrast to the two dozen other videos that mostly feature Longo talking to Smeenk in an office setting.
“The ones that include me aren’t nearly as watched as the ones that don’t,” Smeenk said. “I guess I’m not as easy on the eyes, I suppose.”
Longo said she’s worked with mining companies for years at trade shows, organizing road shows at which companies try to attract investors, and hosting events and presentations. KWG approached her for help with marketing and she came up with the idea for the Mining Minute videos and produces them, she said.
She tries to do one video per week and last week was on vacation in Haliburton, Ont., she said.
“We really tried to just have fun at the cottage,” Longo said.
“It was over 100 degrees, so that’s why we were wearing that wardrobe. It was innocent in the fact that we really weren’t trying to use ourselves as props…I can’t speak for Frank Smeenk saying that sex sells, that’s one thing, but I can assure you that in this instance we didn’t see it that way.”
The Ontario government has committed $1 billion to developing the Ring of Fire and says it is “actively doing the work necessary” so infrastructure can start to be built.
Premier Kathleen Wynne, asked about it Wednesday in Kenora, declined to talk about the video itself.
“We’re committed to the Ring of Fire,” she said. “We have put massive resources aside to build infrastructure. We want that deposit of minerals to be accessed. We want the economic development opportunity there. I’m not going to comment on the tasetefulness or not of the ad.”