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The Township of Greenstone wants to be chosen as the site of a ferrochrome refinery as part of the Ring of Fire development.
George Smitherman, chairman of G&G Global Solutions, said during a presentation on Tuesday that Exton is the most viable site for the chromite refinery.
“At the heart of Exton’s strength is its proximity to the mine site and its relationship with First Nations,” Smitherman, a former provincial Energy minister, said in an interview following his presentation in Thunder Bay.
“What we were able to do is construct a resolution that is a benefit to so many players and brings more opportunities to First Nation communities and is the most environmentally sustainable.” Exton is located on the CNR mainline between Nakina and the Aroland First Nation, and south of the Ring of Fire development.
G&G Global Solutions was contracted by Greenstone to create a proposal for bringing the refinery to Exton.
First Nation aspirations, energy supply and sustainability were the three keys in the proposal.
Greenstone Mayor Ron Beaulieu said a refinery at Exton would be positive for the municipality in terms of employment, potentially creating 500 jobs in the area.
“The area of Greenstone has been hit very hard by the lumber industry (downturn),” he said.
Other sites considered for the ferrochrome refinery include Thunder Bay, Timmins,and Sudbury. But what makes Exton so viable, said Smitherman, is its proximity to the Ring of Fire mining development.
“The key thing is Exton is way closer to the Ring of Fire mine site than any other proposals,” he said. “You can see in the company’s own analysis that transportation costs alone to Exton as opposed to the base case of Sudbury saves $28 million a year.”
Additionally, First Nations people will play a role in moving the project forward, he said. Beaulieu said First Nations in the area have stated that if the minerals are being extracted from the area, they want them to be processed in the area as well.
“Right from the get-go we figured our community had the best chance, because of where we are strategically and working with our First Nations,” Beaulieu said.
“First Nations have always been in consultation with us. That is key for a lot of the players out there right now. We have to deal with what the First Nations are concerned about,” he said.
“They are a critical voice in determining how this will move forward,” Smitherman added.
“What this is about is meeting the needs of Greenstone and allowing the aspirations of First Nations for economic opportunity and for grid connection to be realized. That is part of the construct that we have and can be characterized as a win-win-win approach. It’s a kickstart for social and economic development in Northwestern Ontario.”
One of the barriers facing Exton is an inadequate supply of energy. A ferrochrome refinery uses large amounts of electricity and Exton would require an additional 300MW.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal website: http://www.chroniclejournal.com/content/news/local/2011/09/21/look-no-further