Cliffs holds open house to discuss [Sudbury] chromite smelter – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – October 26, 2012)

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

Interested residents who attended an open house Thursd ay in Capreol on had an opportunity to have their comments and complaints considered by Cliffs Natural Resources as it undertakes the environmental assessment for its chromite smelter project.

Cleveland-based Cliffs is about two years into collecting baseline data for its combined federal and provincial environmental assessment for development of its Black Thor deposit near McFaulds Lake in the Ring of Fire.

Jason Aagenes, director of environmental affairs for Cliffs’ ferroalloys division, briefed reporters on the environmental assessment of the four components of its Ring of Fire. Cliffs is looking to develop an open-pit mine in the James Bay lowlands, which will include a concentrator to crush chromite ore and a lined tailings pond.

It is also developing an integrated transportation corridor to move concentrated ore from the Ring of Fire to a ferrochrome processing plant it plans to build at the former Moose Mountain Mine site, north of Capreol.

Aagenes said the project is in the feasibility and environmental assessment stages, and said Cliffs is working on an aggressive deadline to begin mining and processing by 2016. Cliffs originally intended to be in production by 2015.

Cliffs has more than 165 years of mining experience, most of it producing iron ore in Minnesota, Michigan and Labrador, and mining metallurgical coal in West Virgina, Alabama and elsewhere.

Cliffs’ “stated goal” is to expand its ability to support steel-making businesses, said Aaegenes. Ferrochrome is used to produce stainless steel, as is nickel.

While Cliffs has a great deal of experience mining under various conditions in different parts of the world, Aaegenes said “the ferrochrome piece is a new component.

“We do not have experience with a ferrochrome furnace, but we have excellent technical expertise in-house that we’ve recently acquired and through a number of very large, competent engineering firms,” he said.

Cliffs has been benchmarking other ferrochrome production plants in countries such as Finland and South Africa.

“We hope to take what we know about some of the good operations and expand on that, and also take what we know about some of the bad operations and make sure to avoid any of those impacts,” Aagenes told reporters.

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