Noront Resources is a Canadian-based mining firm that has the largest land position in the Ring of Fire, an emerging multi-metals area located in the James Bay lowlands. The company is planning to build a ferrochrome processing facility in Northern Ontario. Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins are shortlisted as potential sites. The four communities are preparing to send information to Noront expressing their competitive advantages and ability to host the plant. Submissions are due on February 2, 2018.
This initiative has a potential lifespan of decades. Once operational, the plant would employ between 300 and 500 people directly. As well, more than 1,000 indirect jobs would be created, mostly at local businesses that supply products and services. Also, hundreds of jobs would be generated during the construction phase of facility, which has a price tag of between $600 and $800-million.
The site under discussion with Noront is located on Algoma property. The land is surrounded by industry and is already zoned for heavy industrial usage, making it a good fit for the ferrochrome processing facility. Positive discussions have taken place with Algoma about finding a feasible location on company lands for a potential FPF facility.
The timeline for the ferrochrome processing facility to open is 5-10 years. Currently, Noront is seeking information from cities on their ability and potential to host the facility. Once a community is selected as a feasible site, a comprehensive, multi-year environmental assessment and consultation process will commence. Only if the project has public support, and only if it passes stringent environmental regulations, will any construction begin on the plant.
The Sault Ste. Marie proposal is competing with three other cities. Releasing specific details at this point in time would give information to the other communities and could jeopardize the Sault’s chances of being selected as a feasible site to host the ferrochrome processing facility.
Ferrochrome is used to produce stainless steel products. It’s created using iron, oxygen and high-grade chromite ore. For Noront’s proposal, the ore will be mined in the Ring of Fire. The ferrochrome processing facility will grind the ore, melt it, and put it through a process that adds carbon to separate the oxygen from the iron and chrome. The completed product is called ferrochrome. This process requires high levels of energy.
The ferrochrome would be exported to states in the northeastern U.S., including Pennsylvania and Ohio, and used to make stainless steel. The companies that are currently producing stainless steel in the region mostly import their ferrochrome from overseas – in particular, Pakistan and South Africa.