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City and SSMEDC issue statement on Noront FPF project

The City of Sault Ste. Marie (City) and Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) would like to address some of the concerns and misinformation regarding the proposed ferrochrome production facility project (FPF) by Noront Resources Ltd. The City/SSMEDC are providing the public with this background information as a means of offering clarity.

The land and engineering agreements reached by Noront with Algoma Steel and Hatch Engineering that were announced to the public on September 20, 2019 do not supersede community consultation, First Nation consultation or the environmental assessment processes. The agreements do not mean the facility will be built, and should not be interpreted as a final determination. In order for Noront to advance to the next phase of project development, they needed to reach a commercial agreement with Algoma Steel on the land and hire an engineering firm to assist with facility design.

Moving forward, it is important to recognize the following:
• The project is subject to rigorous provincial and federal assessments and permitting processes;
• These processes will be lengthy and provide an opportunity for community input; and
• The City/SSMEDC have made it clear to Noront that they will not support the construction of an FPF on Algoma’s property if the City/SSMEDC believes or has reason to believe that the operation will have an adverse effect on people’s health or if the City/SSMEDC is not satisfied that the facility can operate safely.

Noront has committed to a comprehensive, multi-year environmental assessment process along with community and First Nation consultation, and to utilizing best-in-class technologies and environmental practices. Noront will be hosting an introductory public session on October 23, 2019 where anyone with an interest in learning more about the project can attend the session and hear directly from the company. This meeting will be followed by many more public meetings over the next five years with more detailed information being provided to the public as it becomes available.

Background

The project team that developed the community’s submission was comprised of representation from the City and SSMEDC, along with support provided by sector experts. The submission process has been open and transparent since it began, and the next phase of project development will continue to be open and transparent.

The FPF is the second major project proposed for the Ring of Fire development. Prior to any mining activity of chromite ore that would serve the FPF, the steps include the completion of the environmental assessment for the road to the Ring of Fire, construction of the road, completion of the environmental assessment for the Eagle’s Nest Nickel mine (first project of the Ring of Fire), completion of the construction of the Eagle’s Nest mine and the mine becoming operational.

Timeline

Fall 2016:
• The SSMEDC reached out to Noront to explore opportunities for business development in Sault Ste. Marie related to the Ring of Fire development.
• Noront conducted a visit to the community which was reported widely in the media.

May 2017:
• City Council unanimously passes resolution following Noront visit.
• The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and the SSMEDC host a presentation on The Ring of Fire presented by Alan Coutts, President and Chief Executive Officer and Stephen Flewelling, Chief Development Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

November 2017:
• The SSMEDC receives information package on the site requirements from Noront Resources. The package serves as a guideline from Noront Resources.
• On November 20, 2017 a presentation was made by the SSMEDC and City staff in open Council to provide an update on the project and submission process.

November 2017 – February 2018:
• A project team, comprised of representatives from the City and the SSMEDC, gathers information on the community’s competitive advantages and ability to host the FPF. A submission is ultimately made to Noront Resources. Submissions are also made by Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins. The submission from Sault Ste. Marie includes over 73 letters of support from local businesses and organizations.

January 2018:
• A website was launched by the SSMEDC and City as they were working on a proposal to have Sault Ste. Marie considered as a potential site to host a FPF. A media release was issued and the site provided details on this initiative, including frequently asked questions, a timeline and updates.

July 2018:
• Noront shortlists Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins as the two remaining potential FPF sites.

May 2019:
• Sault Ste. Marie is ultimately selected by Noront as the host location for a FPF based on locational factors and the city’s competitive advantages.

September 2019:
• Noront announces that it has reached land and engineering agreements with Algoma Steel and Hatch Engineering, along with a date for the introductory open house (October 23).