By Stephen Flewelling, CDO
On May 7, 2019, Noront announced Sault Ste. Marie as the location of our future Ferrochrome Production Facility (FPF).
This followed a two-year analysis during which we narrowed our decision from four site proposals to the final choice. So, why exactly did we choose the Soo?
First, it’s worth noting that smelters are time-consuming and expensive to build. For this reason, a smelter construction is typically undertaken only when there is a world-class deposit that will require processing for multiple decades. Noront has three chromite deposits with measured and indicated resources that will allow us to produce ferrochrome for the North American market for the next 100 years.
When determining where to build, a typical location would be right beside the deposit (which allows for lower ore transport costs) or on the water (which would reduce the cost of moving products to and from markets). The Ring of Fire is a boggy, swampy location with no electrical infrastructure, so construction beside the mine was not an option. For this reason, we started a four-city selection process.
All participating communities had great existing brown field sites that we could re-purpose, but only one had the combination of infrastructure, power, experienced workforce, community support and a water-side location on the Great Lakes. Sault Ste. Marie’s lower operating costs in relation to the estimated lifespan of the project made it the best fit for our needs.
Link to the Sault Ste. Marie FPF Site: https://saultfpfproject.com/