Chromite mines developed by Cliffs and others may feed Ontario’s mining services infrastructure, but transportation remains a big question mark. Who knew that chromite mining in the Ring of Fire region could one day be a major economic driver for Ontario?
“Ring of Fire is one of the most promising mineral development opportunities in Ontario in almost a century,’’ said George Ross, a deputy minister in Ontario’s Northern Development and Mines Ministry, during a speech to a mining conference in Toronto this week.
“Current estimates suggest multi-generational potential for chromite production as well as significant production for nickel, copper and platinum,” Ross said.
Chromite mined from the Ring of Fire, a remote part of northern Ontario, is expected to feed the province’s massive mining services and supply chain for many decades to come.
Extracted and then concentrated at source, it must be shipped by road or rail to processing facilities, likely in Sudbury, where it will be turned into Ferrochrome, a critical ingredient used to manufacture stainless steel.
If it all goes ahead, U.S. giant Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF, Stock Forum) could easily invest up to $3.3 billion in mining, transportation and processing facilities, producing 2.3 million tonnes of chromium in concentrates from its Black Thor project.
On top of that is the $609 million that Noront Resources Ltd. (TSX: V.NOT, Stock Forum) could spend to develop a nearby nickel-copper-PGM mine known as Eagle’s Nest.
“The province is committed to seeing this going forward,’’ said Ross, while speaking to a packed Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada audience that included representatives of communities who expect to benefit from the economic spinoffs, including 5,000 new jobs.
Thunder Bay (the nearest city to the proposed mines) and the Fort William First Nation have hired SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (TSX: T.SNC, Stock Forum) to determine what they need to do to prepare.
Also watching developments are members of the Webequie First Nation (population 840), which wants to be involved in decisions related to land, resources and the environment.
“This project may be in the middle of nowhere, but it is actually in my back yard,’’ said Elsie MacDonald, a band councillor with the Webequie.
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