Searching for a Smelter Site

Visiting the Thunder Bay Generating Station

By Alan Coutts, President and CEO

Chrome ore is one of the minerals that Noront plans to mine in the Ring of Fire. But removing it from the ground is just the beginning. After that, it must be transformed into ferrochrome, which along with nickel is used to make stainless steel for products we are all familiar with like cutlery, medical instruments and appliances.

We are planning to develop a processing plant that will turn the ore we mine into ferrochrome. Vast amounts of energy will be needed to melt the ore and separate the iron and chrome from the rest of the rock. Once cooled, the leftover rock will form a glass-like substance known as slag.

Timmins, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay have all expressed an interest in hosting this $1 billion ferrochrome treatment plant. Noront management is looking at these potential sites and gauging the level of local interest because development will require a sizeable investment from the company. We’re looking for a site with most of the infrastructure we need already in place. This may include a rail line, electrical power lines, areas to store our materials and slag and access to a skilled workforce familiar with smelting/hot metal work. Support from local enterprises is also important.

Our plan is to complete the selection process later this year so we can begin the long process of environmental assessment and permitting that is required.

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