Province pushed to make roads decision holding up Ring of Fire and $1-billion ferrochrome facility – by Elaine Della-Mattia (North Bay Nugget – May 11, 2017)

At least four communities are in the running to host a $1-billion ferrochrome facility to process ore from the Ring of Fire, located in northwestern Ontario. Top executives with Noront Resources were in Sault Ste. Marie Wednesday and said they will decide by the end of summer where the company will build its ferrochrome facility, which is expected to create up to 350 jobs.

Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Thunder Bay-Fort William are competing for the plant. The Noront executives met with community leaders and chamber of commerce members in the Sault, outlining their plans and how the Ring of Fire development can provide an economic boost to Northern Ontario.

Alan Coutts, president and CEO of Noront Resources, said he wants communities to understand the company and its capabilities, and have the supports in place if that community is chosen to host the first ferrochrome facility in North America.

While Cliffs Natural Resources had originally targeted Sudbury for the plant, Noront’s buy-out of the company altered those plans. Coutts said at this time, there is no preferred city to host the site. He said Noront’s plans are “a little more modest” than that of the larger-scaled Cliffs, and are more heavily focused on entering into the U.S. market.

He said community buy-in to the plant is paramount, especially because it will take time to get environmental assessments completed and proper ministry permits approved.

A skilled workforce that understands the process of melting molten and smeltering processes is an asset and the land size, infrastructure and costs are also factors under consideration, he said in an interview.

But nothing can be done until the province determines where roads should be built to the Ring of Fire area and the infrastructure is in place to get to the mineral deposits, Coutts said.

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