By Alan Coutts, President and CEO
In January, Canada and the U.S. announced the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, an agreement that aims to increase production and secure supply chains for minerals that are critical to strategic industries like defence, aerospace and communications.
Several nations, including the U.S. and Canada, are concerned about being overly reliant on China and other risky jurisdictions for the import and processing of certain minerals. In 2018, the U.S. published a list of 35 minerals viewed as critical to its economic and national security. Noront has five of these in its Ring of Fire deposits: chrome, cobalt, platinum group elements, titanium and vanadium.
Of particular interest is the need for a secure source of chrome to supply America’s stainless steel mills. All grades of stainless steel contain 10-30% chrome, and certain grades have significant amounts of nickel as well.
The U.S. has no domestic source of chrome ore and there are no chrome smelters in North America. Currently, all chrome used by American stainless steel makers comes in the form of ferrochrome (an iron-chrome alloy) from countries like South Africa and Kazakhstan.
It is Noront’s vision to mine high-grade chrome ore deposits in the Ring of Fire and transform chrome into ferrochrome for export to the U.S. The Joint Action Plan is expected to provide incentives like infrastructure support, financial investment and committed offtake agreements (to secure a market for future output) for new mining projects and processing facilities.