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The U.S. firm sinking more than $3 billion into “responsibly mining” an ecologically sensitive part of Ontario’s north says it is in its best interests to go through rigorous environmental tests.
Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources holds key mining rights to a resource-rich area inside the Ring of Fire, located about 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay in the James Bay Lowlands.
The ring is estimated to contain nearly $30 billion worth of chromium, which is used to make stainless steel — enough to be mined for nearly 100 years. At least 1,200 jobs are expected to be created by Cliffs investment.
Already, environmentalists, First Nations and Environment Canada are raising potential red flags but Cliff’s said they are doing everything they can to safeguard the land, water and animals as they proceed.
This is a signature project for Cliffs and environmental protection is at the forefront, said David Cartella, the company’s vice-president of global environmental affairs.
“A robust environmental assessment (EA) process is in our interests as well. We certainly don’t want to go forward with that kind of investment and have it shut down,” Cartella said Tuesday.
Cliffs plans to submit their environmental assessment by early 2013 — one they say they’ll create with First Nations communities — and start construction in late 2015. The firm will be building a $1.8 billion chromite processing facility near Sudbury, developing an all-season, 340-km long road to transport the chromium and constructing an open pit mine.
Cliffs is “definitely in discussions with Ontario” regarding energy prices and whether the province will engage in a “public-private” partnership to help pay for the north-south road, said Patricia Persico, the company’s director for global communications. She couldn’t put an estimate on how much the road will cost.
Last week, the Star reported Environment Canada expects chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, “will likely be released” into the area due to the mining activity and it may have “immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment . . . or may constitute a danger to human life or health.”
Chromium-6 is a known carcinogen. It was the industrial pollutant in the drinking water that was linked to illness in Hinkley, Calif., and revealed publicly in the 1990s by Erin Brockovich, a crusading law clerk.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1221054–u-s-mining-giant-backs-robust-environmental-tests