Cliffs to push mine, smelter project forward – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – November 7, 2012)

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

Bill Boor, senior vice-president of global ferroalloys for Cliffs Natural Resources, had already been asked several times about the company’s projected start date for its Black Thor deposit in the Ring of Fire by the time he addressed a lunch crowd Tuesday.

Boor told 330 people attending an event organized by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce that he hoped to clear up any confusion about his company’s schedule to begin production at its McFaulds Lake mine site in northwestern Ontario.

“How do you clear it up?” Boor asked rhetorically during his 40-minute speech. “My simple answer is, ‘It depends.’ ” Many things will have to come together to meet Cliffs’ target of beginning production by the end of 2016, he said.

The company is in the middle of completing a feasibility study that will refine what came out of a pre-feasibility study. That will result in “a very specific project with tighter understanding of the impacts of what needs to be managed here,” said Boor.

Using targets the company believes are realistic, it is looking to complete the feasibility study by mid-2013 and to have permits in place in the second half of 2014. 
The environmental assessment for the project will be “running parallel and that’s an uncertain timeline,” said Boors.

“A lot of things have to go right for that to happen,” he said of the start date.

The project is important to Sudbury because Cliffs plans to ship chromite from its McFaulds Lake mine to smelter to be built near Capreol. The smelter would create 400 to 500 jobs. Chromite is used to harden steel.

Boor said he recognized there is confusion about the schedule for the project. “The honest truth is, we’re going to have to live with that until we see how we hit some milestones, until we get through feasibility and see how the environmental assessment process works.”

Part of the reason for addressing chamber members and guests was to “keep the discussion going so that you know what we know about the schedule.”

So, while 2016 remains the target startup date, it’s a schedule “that’s got some risk of slipping.”

Boor said Cliffs is very excited about the Black Thor project, but it has hard decisions to make.

Cliffs’ board of directors won’t “take up the decision on the project” until it has information from its feasibility study and some predevelopment agreements in place with First Nations who are neighbours to the project.

He also spoke about nailing down an agreement with the Province of Ontario for the project.

“So, it’s not a done deal at this point,” Boor told the audience.

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