The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
A plan to sell chromite concentrate from the Ring of Fire area to Asian refineries has raised concerns in Northern Ontario.
Cliffs Natural Resources, the company behind one of the Ring of Fire discoveries in northwestern Ontario, said it wants to meet a growing international demand by selling some of the partially processed chromite material, called concentrate, to refineries in China. This will not change its plans to build a smelter in Northern Ontario — possibly in Sudbury — which is a component of the company’s chromite project base case.
While the Ontario Mining Act states that ore mined in Ontario must be processed in Canada, Cliffs said the company will build a plant to process crude ore into concentrate, which officials believe will satisfy the mining law.
“We believe that concentrate is an established product in world markets and the material mined will have undergone significant value-added processing,” Pat Persico, the senior manager of global communications for Cliffs, said in an email. “Of course, the company will abide by all laws as they may pertain to any aspect of our business.”
Persico emphasized the ore will be processed before it’s sold.
While Rick Bartolucci, the minister of Northern Development and Mines and Sudbury MPP, did not comment, a spokesperson from his office said that a company that wants to send chromite concentrate to a refinery outside of Canada would need an exemption to do so.
“Minister Bartolucci does not deal with conjecture, but as Northern Development and Mines minister, he is strongly focused on ensuring processing occurs in Northern Ontario,” Laura Blondeau, a ministry spokesperson, wrote in an email.
Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas is opposed to Cliffs’ plan.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” she said. “We do have an act that says it can not be processed outside of Canada … without a serious conversation with the provincial government.”
Gelinas wants to see Ontario benefit from its own resources.
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