Smelter announcement ‘like a funeral’ for northwest – by CBC News Thunder Bay (May 9, 2012)
Thunder Bay mayor, First Nations leaders weigh in on Cliffs Natural Resources decision to located chromite smelter in Sudbury
Reaction in Thunder Bay to Cliffs Natural Resources announcement that it will locate its ferrochrome smelter in the Sudbury area is one of disappointment.
Mayor Keith Hobbs said “it was like coming to a funeral,” when he attended a press conference Wednesday morning where he learned the mining company would process the chromite from its Ring of Fire mining project in Sudbury.
Natural Resources minister Michael Gravelle said northwestern Ontario would benefit from the project, and spoke about the number of overall jobs that would be created and how the northwest would play a role in the Ring of Fire development.

But that didn’t ease the concerns of municipal and First Nations leaders in the room. According to Thunder Bay CBC News reporter Jeff Walters, Hobbs said consultation between the minister and Cliffs obviously didn’t happen. Hobbs said there was a lack of leadership, adding he was disappointed in Gravelle — and refused to shake his hand.
“He didn’t fight for the region … this was all about a riding in Sudbury,” Hobbs said.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne said the decision was based on business — and not politics.
Either way, the outcome means Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose said the province has to go back to the table and re-evaluate the situation.
He said a lack of consultation has been shown and he’ll be speaking with other NAN leaders before taking any “next steps.”
The announcement also dismayed the chief of Aroland First Nation, who said the province attempted, at the last-minute, to buy off Ring of Fire First Nations.
Sonny Gagnon said Northern Development and Mines minister Rick Bartolucci arranged a sudden meeting late Tuesday to try to head off First Nations’ opposition to the Cliffs chromite mine and refinery.
“They offered things that we’d asked for in the past … when we started this,” Gagnon said. “They wanted to develop a framework of some sort to address what our needs were … all of a sudden, at the eleventh hour, we [got our] meeting with the minister.”
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