Sudbury council is in a terrible tizzy. It wants the provincial government to do something, anything to get the Ring of Fire project back on track. It is easy to understand why.
Look at all the clues and the straws blowing in the wind and it is obvious that Sudbury may not get all it has taken for granted. There seems to be an excellent chance that Timmins will become the centre for chromite refining.
When Rick Bartolucci was minister of Northern Development, he got Cliffs Natural Resources to promise to build a chromite refinery at Capreol. Now an outfit called KWG Resources may mess it all up.
KWG is a fast-moving exploration company. It staked some ground just where Cliffs want to build a road. It did everything according to the book and the provincial government will have to invent some new laws if it wants to push KWG aside in favour of Cliffs.
The First Nations must also be satisfied they get a square deal. Bob Rae is expected to act as their negotiator, which adds considerable political clout to their case.
Now KWG has launched what amounts to a nuclear strike that can change the whole Ring of Fire situation. It has patented a chromite refining process that relies on natural gas instead of electricity. KWG will not be held to ransom by Ontario’s obscene hydro electric rates. In the past KWG has indicated it is more interested in rail transportation than road.
In a recent interview, a KWG executive suggested that Timmins might be a good place for the chromite refinery. This makes sense as the Kidd Creek refinery was closed because it could not compete and pay its Hydro bills.
It is reasonable to suppose that Cliffs will want to use the KWG process to refine its chromite ore. The implications are fascinating.
This should also mean business for the Ontario Northland Railway if the Liberals have not got rid of it.
Strange things are happening. Rick Bartolucci may soon join the Sudbury council dressed in sackcloth and ashes as they beat their heads against a wall and wail, “Where has the chromite gone?”
For the original version, click here: http://www.nugget.ca/2013/11/05/kwg-throws-wrench-into-ring-of-fire