Fort William First Nation, Noront Resources discuss chromite processing plant – by Jeff Labine ( – January 25 2013)

Fort William First Nation’s chief says his community is involved in preliminary talks with a mining company to bring a chromite processing plant to this area. Chief Peter Collins has met with officials with Noront Resources Ltd. to discuss the possibility of a processing plant.

Although the project is still in its early stages, the proposed plant is expected to take up 300-megawatt of power, which would put more strain on the Thunder Bay Generating Station. The project’s power needs was brought to the attention of Ontario’s Energy Minister Chris Bentley when he met with the Energy Task Force in Thunder Bay last week.

“We’ve been in early discussions with Noront and right now it is still a work in progress,” Collins said Friday. “If this does come to reality we would like ownership within the plant, and we made no bones about it. Jobs are also part of the discussions.”

He said the processing plant that Noront is looking for will be smaller than a third in size to the one that Cliffs Natural Resources is expected to build.

Fort William First Nation had discussed the possibility of hosting that processing plant, but Collins said that was managed as a joint effort with many communities in the district.

The discussions with Noront are exclusively between the company and Fort William First Nation.

“It’s still early and Thunder Bay is our partner and I truly believe the partnership we have is a step forward for all of us,” he said.

“It’s not about us or you it’s about all of us so we can all enjoy the benefits of our lands and the economic benefits that come from it.”

Noront Resources Ltd. Chief Operating Officer, Paul Semple, told Friday that their first priority is the Eagle’s Nest project in the lower James Bay area near Webequie First Nation.

Once the nickel deposits in the Ring of Fire are taken care of, the company will shift focus to other projects.

The likelihood of the project starting up is still a few years away, he added.

“The chromite plant is a longer-term project. We’ve only been talking in conceptual levels. We’ve gone and looked at that piece of land. We see the land and we see the power plant that’s across the river and it looks like it would all make sense for a facility of that nature.

“We’re not actively pursuing the chromite until we finish with the nickel project. It’s on a port and there a lot of the infrastructure is sitting right there.”