[Cliffs Natural Resources] U.S. mining giant looks to Asia to process Ring of Fire chromite – by Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star – December 1, 2011)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion

A U.S. international mining firm may seek permission from the Ontario government to process some of the precious ore it hauls out of the Ring of Fire to Asia.

Cliffs Natural Resources, an Ohio-based mining giant, is preparing to extract what is estimated to be one of the world’s largest chromite discoveries in an ecologically sensitive part of northern Ontario, about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. The deposit is estimated to be worth $30 billion. International mining companies have staked 9,000 claims covering 480,000 hectares.

Most of the chromite will be processed and refined at plants in northern Ontario, but the company says some of the concentrate could be shipped offshore to Asia. Cliffs is proposing a ferrochrome production facility with an annual capacity of approximately 600,000 tonnes, said Pat Persico, Cliffs senior manager of global communications.

“The Cliffs Chromite project viability is dependent on accessing Asian markets as well,” she wrote.

According to Cliffs chromite project plans, some concentrate may be shipped directly to refineries outside of Canada.

The potential economic spinoffs of the Ontario chromite haul is enormous — a processing plant and railway line will be built to transport the ore — but union leaders fear the Cliffs move could cost the province thousands of potential jobs.

If chromite is mined in Ontario, it should be processed in Canada, said William Brehl, national president of the Teamsters Maintenance of Way railway track and infrastructure workers.

Brehl fears the company will refine only some of the product here and ship the rest to Asia.

“They are going to let us wet our beak and then they are going to ship the rest out of the country,” he said. “If you mine it here, you refine and process it here or you leave it in the ground.”

There are facilities in Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Sudbury that could be used and many workers that have experienced devastating job losses, he said.

“Do we want 500 jobs or 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 jobs?” he said. “The North has been starving for awhile.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath questioned Premier Dalton McGuinty over possible job losses to China Wednesday in the Legislature.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1095125–u-s-mining-giant-looks-to-asia-to-process-ring-of-fire-chromite