Noront president doesn’t rule out ferrachrome smelter for Thunder Bay – by Leith Dunick ( – March 23, 2015)

The president and CEO of Noront Resources is not ruling out a ferrachrome smelter landing in Thunder Bay. Alan Coutts on Monday said Monday nothing is written in stone, after his company spent $20 million to acquire more than 100 claims previously owned by a pair of Cliffs Natural Resources subsidiaries.

Cliffs had originally said Sudbury was its preferred location for the processing plant. “We haven’t settled on anything yet,” Coutts said in an interview with CKPR Radio, adding there is no guarantee the facility will even be built in the province.

“We would like to see that upgrading of the chrome wars happen in Ontario, but a smelter is a big investment. It’s a very energy-intensive process and you’d need to see some really good electricity rates as well.” Coutts said he plans to speak to the province about energy cost, but it’s far too soon in the process for nay firm decisions.

“But we’re looking at this from a fresh viewpoint and all options are open, essentially.” Noront is on record favouring an east-west corridor being built into the Ring of Fire, which would link to the project via Pickle Lake.

Mayor Keith Hobbs said he’s had discussions with Noront about their smelter intentions and remains optimistic Thunder Bay would be a good fit.

“A ferrachrome processor would be a boom to Thunder Bay’s economy. I can hear the naysayers already though. Noront can process the chromium here put it on ships or rail and away we go,” Hobbs said, reached by email.

“While we’re talking processor let’s go all the way and talk about manufacturing stainless steel here as well. Anything is possible. We have a mining readiness dtrategy in place and the partnerships formed already. Fort William First Nation is a willing partner as well and we have industrial lands available. Just look at Resolute sawmill, for instance.”