[Noront Resources] Miner must now choose which one lands the Ring of Fire ferrochrome smelter – by Jim Moodie (North Bay Nugget – February 7, 2018)


Noront Resources has a difficult decision to make on where it will process Ring of Fire chromite. “It’s not an obvious slam dunk for one community,” said the company’s CEO Alan Coutts on Tuesday. “There’s no one proposal that was head and shoulders above all the others.”

Coutts said the company anticipated each pitch would be strong. “It’s great because everyone put on their thinking caps, became creative, and has come forward with compelling proposals.”

The Noront head was in Sudbury for a chamber of commerce-hosted conference on Tuesday, less than a week after the Nickel City, along with Timmins, Thunder Bay and the Sault, submitted bids to host a ferrochrome smelter. North Bay has backed the Timmins bid, as it would be the most beneficial to the Ontario Northland Railway. Speaking with media after his keynote address, Coutts said the miner has to weigh a number of factors in making a final choice.

“We’ll distill those bids down and say, right, we’ve got a designed plant — we know how much that costs indicatively,” he said. “Now, how much can we take off of that bill because we’re repurposing a brownfield site?”

Sudbury’s proposal is to make use of an old smelter site in Coniston that remains owned by Vale, and the other communities are similarly pitching privately held properties, Coutts said. That means Noront will have to reach a “commercial arrangement” with whichever landlord it chooses.

But compared to an undeveloped site, where infrastructure would have to be created from scratch, savings can be reaped by reusing electrical or rail infrastructure. “Also, from a permitting point of view, it’s a lot cheaper to do environmental assessments and repurpose a site than to do a brand-new construction in a greenfield area,” he said.

Other considerations include “how efficiently we can move materials to and from the smelter,” he said. “And where is the smelter — how close is it to the Ring? How close is it to markets?”

Beyond those basic economic considerations, there is also the broader question of community support and other intangibles. “Are there universities and colleges?” he said. “Are their experienced tradespeople and contractors that can play a role?”

For the rest of this article: http://www.nugget.ca/2018/02/07/miner-must-now-choose-which-one-lands-the-ring-of-fire-ferrochrome-smelter