Mine developer pleased First Nation partnership, government getting traction on access road
What a difference a year makes. Early last year, Noront Resources president-CEO Alan Coutts delivered a doom-and-gloom speech to a Sudbury crowd that cast doubt about whether the Toronto mine developer even saw a future in the Ring of Fire.
There was frustration over government inaction in planning an access road to reach the isolated James Bay mineral deposits, the glacial pace of dialogue with First Nation communities with the Regional Framework talks seemed to be going nowhere, and Coutts was dropping hints that the project could be shelved if the company’s financial backers weren’t seeing progress.
This time, an upbeat Coutts was striking a more optimistic tone as the featured headliner at the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce’s Procurement, Employment and Partnerships Conference on Feb. 6.
Noront has aims on becoming North America’s first chromite miner and ferrochrome producer with a stable of base metal deposits in the James Bay region. Semi-finished ferrochrome is an essential ingredient in the making of stainless steel.
Coutts and Steve Flewelling, Noront’s chief development officer, both Falconbridge alumni, envision creating Canada’s next great mining company, built on the strong fundamentals in developing ore bodies that were practiced by their former employer.
Coutts’ presentation at the Indigenous-themed event touched on the company’s social licence-to-operate efforts in connecting with First Nation communities by including them as exploration participants and signing them on to be eventual business partners in the mine development.
Commodity markets for nickel and chromite appear to be turning in the company’s favour, he said. Their financiers have given Noront a vote of confidence and they’re seeing an election-bound provincial government that’s determined to show tangible results on development in the Far North.
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