Sudbury letter: Smelter is safe, mayor says – by Brian Bigger (Sudbury Star – March 1, 2018)

Brian Bigger is the Mayor of Sudbury.

Re: “Smelter plan ‘underhanded, shocking’,” Feb. 25.

I want to thank all the residents who’ve taken the time to express their sentiments regarding the city’s bid to Noront Resources. It’s important that we have these discussions to alleviate some of the misconceptions.

It’s important to make clear that no decision has been made regarding the ferrochrome processing plant Noront is proposing. The location we are proposing was provided close to the bid due date to keep our competitive advantage over other communities.

As you are aware, I went to Finland to see first-hand what a facility like this looks like and to hear how the company works within the community. The response was overwhelmingly supportive. Our community survey was also quite supportive, with 77 per cent of respondents supporting the idea of submitting a proposal for a ferrochrome smelter in our community.

I want to assure you that no one is seeking to return to our past environmental devastation. We’ve worked too hard to get this far. Mining innovation and technology has totally transformed right here in our backyard and with a commitment to environmental responsibility, we are well positioned for this.

The ferrochrome facility in Tornio, similar to what Noront Resources is proposing, operates under strict environmental and health protection regulations. The plant itself is visible from downtown Tornio and as many as a third of its employees can bike to work. The complex is also directly on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia where the Tornio River, one of Lapland’s most popular fishing streams, meets the sea. This facility has operated successfully on this site for more than 50 years and has received approval to bring a new furnace into production just six years ago.

Noront has committed to using the most advanced furnace technology available, along with a process that, as well as capturing emissions and dust, avoids the production of toxic compounds. Noront’s proposed facility will also undergo an extensive environmental assessment process, which must include public consultation and detailed baseline studies on environmental, health and social systems. All potential impacts are identified and mitigation strategies are developed to ensure they are reduced to an acceptable level for human health by the provincial and federal governments.

As a community, we need to attract more commercial, industrial and institutional investment to strengthen our economy and create jobs. We are the hub of mining excellence in Canada and we’ve continually found a way to be leaders in this area, while also continually improving our environment. I am confident we will continue down this path.

As mayor, I want what’s best for our community and would never intentionally put anyone in harm’s way. I would encourage anyone who has further questions about this topic to contact my office. I am happy to tell you first-hand what I saw and experienced in Finland.

In closing, I will reiterate that we are just at the beginning of this process and we are committed to ensuring that a thorough and complete environmental assessment will occur should we be selected.

For the orginal source of his column: