Cliffs remains optimistic – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 19, 2013)

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

Developing its Black Thor deposit in the Ring of Fire continues to be “a viable business opportunity” for the Cleveland-based mining company, says its spokeswoman.

A Reuters story this week, suggesting Cliffs’ failing finances could jeopardize its $3.3-billion investment in the chromite deposit, is speculation, said Patricia Persico.

According to Reuters, Cliffs has been hurt by weak iron ore prices and higher than anticipated costs for a key project, Bloom Lake iron ore in Quebec. Part of that $3.3-billion investment is a $1.8-billion ferrochrome processing plant to be built near Capreol.

“Cliffs has not made any announcements contrary to what we’ve stated to date about our chromite project,” said Persico in an email this week. The feasibility study for the chromite project is expected to be completed on schedule, by the end of September, and “work on all fronts, including discussions with First Nations and the (Province) of Ontario, continue to be encouraging,” she said.

Cliffs is also working with the Government of Canada “on many levels” to move the chromite project forward, said Persico.

Talks between Cliffs and the province have been stalled since October when Dalton McGuinty announced he was resigning as premier.

Last month, the man in charge of Cliffs’ chromite project, Bill Boor, said he was looking to sign a definitive agreement with the province by the summer.

Cliffs had originally set a target of 2015 to be up and running in the Ring of Fire, and that has been pushed ahead to 2016.

Boor, Cliffs’ vice-president of global ferroalloys, said he understands the delay in striking an agreement because of the changing Ontario government.

Persico said it’s a very complex agreement, delayed by the transition after McGuinty retired and Kathleen Wynne became premier.

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