Northern Ontario cities make a grab for the chromite ring – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – February 6, 2018)

Ring of Fire developer Noront Resources receives community bid packages for smelter project

Feb. 2 was D-Day for four Northern Ontario cities to make their best pitch in vying for a Ring of Fire ferrochrome processing plant. That was the deadline Noront Resources marked on the calendar for Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and Thunder Bay-Fort William First Nation to each deliver their most convincing case on why they should host the $1-billion mineral processing development.

The Toronto-based mine developer will spend the next few months huddled with Hatch project engineers to assess the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each city’s bid.

On the table are 350 permanent smelter jobs for the facility’s first stage, many plant construction jobs, a multitude of service spinoff opportunities, and a huge economic boost for one community that may continue for generations to come as the Far North opens up for mining development.

Noront is the leading mine developer in the remote mineral belt of the James Bay lowlands. Their proposed ferrochrome smelter would process chromite from deposits into ferrochrome, a major ingredient used in stainless steel production.

Leaders in each community all felt confident in the strength of their bid packages. The City of Greater Sudbury is touting itself to Noront as the home of Ontario’s only two base metal smelters and is showcasing its mining innovation and technical know-how while portraying itself as a community that would embrace the plant, backed by a 77 per cent approval rating in a city-commissioned poll of residents.

“There’s no question we’re a smelter community,” said Ian Wood, Greater Sudbury Development Corporation’s economic development director, “and I think people understand that.”

The municipality is promoting a brownfield property to Noront, located near a former INCO smelter site in Coniston on the city’s east side, owned by nickel miner Vale.

“We know the property’s available and that Vale does not have an alternate use for it, and would be interested in striking some form of deal.”

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