Answers coming [about Cliff’s ferrochrome processor] – by Jamie Smith ( – May 2, 2012)

For a short news report about teh Carrabba speech click here:

The head of Cliffs Natural Resources says an announcement on where his company will put a ferrochrome processor is days away.

But Joseph Carrabba couldn’t say where when asked about the decision and announcement Tuesday afternoon at a Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business luncheon in Thunder Bay.

Recently a group of regional mayors and First Nations leaders signed a document calling for the processor to be built in Greenstone rather than Cliff’s base case of Sudbury. Carrabba said he understands it’s an emotional issue and that every region wants to fight hard for economic development.

“Obviously we’re not going to be able to please everyone,” he said. “If we can’t work it out, we can’t work it out.” Carrabba did say that consultations between Cliffs and First Nation communities needs to continue.

“We’re going to get better,” he said. “And we will do better.”

“We’re not the big, bad mining company that comes in here and rolls people over…we have to earn our right to grow.”

He also said the company welcomes stringent environmental regulations as long as those regulations don’t change. Good regulation separates good and bad mining operations he said.

The ten-year project will take $3.2 billion before production begins in an industry that’s cyclical Carrabba said. But with China, India and other countries showing no sign of stopping, the operation should be profitable, bringing with it up to 1,200 jobs. But, he cautioned, the Cliff’s operation alone isn’t the only answer to the region’s economic development.

“It won’t cure everything,” he said.

As for a skilled labour shortage, Carrabba said every mining operation in the world is facing the same program and that with the right training in place, the region could be ready. Not having enough people can almost be a good problem to have he said.

“Lack of skilled labour is a product of success.”

But when questioned about sharing the cost of training First Nations people by NIshnawbe Aski Nation’s education department, Carrabba said the actual project isn’t even into its feasibility stage yet.

“I’m not ready to commit to anything today,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

Due to time constraints, Carrabba was not available to media after his speech.

CCAB president Clint Davis said often a business can be overly optimistic and raise expectations about a project, something Carrabba didn’t do.

“The fact is there is still a lot of work that has to happen in order to get this thing off the ground so I thought it was quite realistic,” he said.

Given that the location of a processor is such a hot-button political issue, Davis wasn’t surprised by Carrabba’s the response.

“I thought his response was quite good. Some people are going to be happy some people aren’t that’s just the nature of business.”

Acting as a chamber of commerce for Aboriginal business, Davis said ultimately the CCAB wants to see as many First Nations businesses develop as a result of the billions of dollars expected to be spent in the region.