North [Ontario] to reap benefits – by Carol Muligan (Sudbury Star – May 10, 2012)

 The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Sudbury will be the home of a $1.8-billion ferrochrome processing plant to be built by Cliffs Natural Resources, but all of Northern Ontario is “poised to reap the benefits” of the company’s development of the Ring of Fire, says Rick Bartolucci.

Cliffs announced Wednesday morning that its board of directors has moved its proposed chromite project from the pre-feasibility to the feasibility stage.

At the same time, Northern Development and Mines Minister Bartolucci announced in Sudbury that the coveted smelter to process chromite ore mined and concentrated in the northwest will be built near Capreol by 2015.

Chromite is a key component in the manufacture of stainless steel, a product we need for our “day-to-day lives,” Bartolucci told about 75 people at a news conference at the Willet Green Miller Centre at Laurentian University. About 450 jobs will be created in the construction phase and 450 in the production phase of the smelter.

Several hundred more jobs will be created in northwestern Ontario, where Cliffs is developing its chromite mine. Cliffs is investing $3.3 billion in the project in total.

Bartolucci said the province is still working with Cliffs on details of the agreement to provide infrastructure and electricity, and to determine the percentage of ore mined in the northwest that will be processed in Ontario.

In a news release, Cliffs officials said their discussions with the province have resulted in an agreement in principle for key elements of the chromite project, including development of provincial infrastructure.

“The company is satisfied and confident in naming Ontario as the future location for its intended ferrochrome processing facility,” said the company. “Both parties will continue to work toward a definitive agreement.”

Bartolucci stressed his government consulted with First Nations in the area throughout its discussions with Cliffs regarding environmental concerns, regional infrastructure, training and dealing with socioeconomic concerns.

The province is also looking to draw the federal government into what Bartolucci called a tripartite framework. Premier Dalton McGuinty has written Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking the federal government to come to the table to help move the project forward.

Cliffs’ senior vice-president Bill Boor said Wednesday’s announcement was a major milestone in the company’s plans to develop its assets in the Ring of Fire.

“Now, we are able to commit to a project definition, moving us closer to making the chromite project reality,” said Boor in a news release.

“By following a very rigorous and disciplined pre-feasibility approach, we are confident the viability of the project is enhanced, which is critical to creating stable jobs and bringing other social and economic benefits to the region.”

Before Cliffs can finalize its plans, it must must receive provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals, negotiate agreements with First Nations, work with governments to address the lack of infrastructure and complete commercial and technical feasibility studies.

Bartolucci said his ministry will work with Cliffs to make sure the provincial approvals’ process moves forward quickly to meet the company’s timeline for the mine to be up and running.

The province fast-tracked approvals for the development of De Beers Canada’s Victor Mine, 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat, several years ago.

The chief of Wahnapitae First Nation attended the Sudbury news conference and said he was excited about the smelter location. It will be built at the old Moose Mountain Mine site, about 15 kilometres from the First Nation.

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