Sudbury could host Ring of Fire chromite processing – by Ian Ross

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business  provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. This article is from a Feb/4/11 website posting.

For an extensive list of articles on this mineral discovery, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

Chromite ore mined in the Ring of Fire by Cliffs Natural Resources may potentially be processed in Sudbury. The city is the front-runner to host the ore processing from a chromite deposit in the Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire.

Cliffs Natural Resources released a much-anticipated Feb. 4 project description of its Cliffs Chromite project in the James Bay region.

The international iron ore and coal miner is eyeballing a brownfield site near Capreol in the north end of Sudbury. Canadian National’s main cross-Canada line runs through the suburb of 3,800.

In what Cliffs is referring to as a “base case” scenario, ore will be transported down a proposed permanent haul road – of roughly 300 kilometres — from the Black Thor chromite deposit to a multi-modal facility near Nakina and then loaded onto the Canadian National Railway main line for delivery to Sudbury for final processing.

As many as 1,300 direct jobs could be created with 300 and 500 jobs at the mine site, 200 to 300 in transportation, and 400 to 500 in a ferrochrome production facility.

A final step ferrochrome production facility involves refining ore and concentrate in electric arc furnaces. Ferrochrome metal is a key ingredient in the making of stainless steel.

In their release, Cliffs cautions the base case of Sudbury is “not necessarily” the final choice, since there need to be further studies and discussions with project stakeholders.

The company said it has plans to meet with other communities, namely Thunder Bay, Greenstone and Timmins to discuss the potential of locating the ferrochrome processing there.

In a statement, Cliffs president of ferroalloy Bill Boor said although they continue to conduct pre-feasibility studies on the project, the price of power remains an issue.

“At current provincial power rates, there isn’t a location in Ontario that is economically viable for Cliffs to build the (ferrochrome production facility).”

But Sudbury remains the “base case” location because it is a “technically feasible site.”

A pre-feasibility study is expected to be completed by September. If the economics prove favourable, a full feasibility study would begin immediately and is expected to be complete by late 2012. Chromite production could begin in 2015.

According to the plan, the first 10 to 15 years of mine life will be from two open pits with the possibility of going underground.

The project details outlines a 6,000 to 12,000 tonne-per-day mine. An on-site chromite ore processing facility would handle between 3,600 and 7,200 tonnes per day at full production. It would produce a concentrate suitable for refining before it is transported out on haul trucks.

High-grade ore will be refined or directly sold to market. Lower-grade ore will be processed at the mine site to produce a concentrate.