The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
TORONTO — Ontario’s Opposition says a Liberal government plan to tax the mineral chromite prompted Cliffs Natural Resources to pull out of the Ring of Fire mining project in the province’s north.
The U.S.-based Cliffs withdrew earlier this year from the Ring of Fire, a region 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay that is rich in deposits of copper, nickel, platinum and chromite, which is essential for making stainless steel.
The company, which spent $550 million to buy land in the area, was in negotiations with the Ontario government for a $3.3-billion capital investment to develop the Ring of Fire until it pulled out last spring. It also cancelled a planned $1.8-billion chromite processing facility in Capreol.
Documents released as part of an investigation into cancelled gas plants in the Toronto-area four years ago revealed the province wanted to impose a royalty on chromite mined by Cliffs of between $6.6 million and $34.4 million a year.
Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle refused to confirm the Liberals tried to impose the chromite royalty, insisting the negotiations with Cliffs were commercially sensitive and must be kept secret.
But Progressive Conservative finance critic Vic Fedeli says the documents prove what Gravelle doesn’t want to admit: that the chromite tax drove Cliffs to abandon the Ring of Fire.
Gravelle insists that’s “completely and absolutely false,” and says Cliffs made their decision to withdraw from Ontario because of “a number of market conditions,” and he refused to even mention a tax or royalty on chromite.
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