Four Northern Ontario cities have put the word in with Noront Resources that they would entertain being the host community for a ferrochrome smelter. Five Ontario cities, including four in Northern Ontario, have expressed interest in hosting a ferrochrome smelter for Ring of Fire developer Noront Resources.
“We haven’t excluded any sites yet, but it would be a brownfield site somewhere in Ontario,” said company president-CEO Al Coutts. “That’s our preference.” Coutts said they’ve been approached by “a number of parties” from Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Sudbury and Hamilton.
Factoring into the site selection process, he said, would be the availability of a skilled local workforce, having the electrical infrastructure already in place, and getting the power at the right price. “I like the concept of having something in Northern Ontario,” said Coutts. “Ultimately it’s going to depend too on what kind of power price agreement we can negotiate with the province.”
The province offers a Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program for large industrial consumers of power that he said Noront can tap into, but he’s also aware of the price that Cliffs Natural Resources had once negotiated for. “So there’s a benchmark there.”
Last year, Noront acquired all of Cliffs’ Ring of Fire chromite properties in a US $27.5-million deal.
Among the unresolved issues Cliffs had in its ill-fated negotiations with the Ontario government was a firm commitment from the province to build the mine-related transportation infrastructure and in reaching an agreement on a favourable power rate in exchange for locating a ferrochrome refinery in Ontario.
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