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Cliffs Natural Resources still has to go through an environmental assessment and is also working on a hydro deal with the provincial government before it gets its chromite smelter up and running. It will be located at the former Moose Mountain mine site in Capreol. (Erik White/CBC)

A group of citizens concerned about health and safety issues surrounding a proposed new smelter in Sudbury want to make sure the plant is sound from the start.  

Cliffs Natural Resources plans to build a ferrochrome processing plant at an old mine site near Capreol. And while some residents say they welcome the new business, they also want to make sure it doesn't impact their health.

Long time health and safety advocate Homer Seguin — who fought for improvements over the years at operations run by former nickel miner INCO — said the group is not looking to stop Cliffs from proceeding with the plant.

"Surely our conditions about safe for the community, safe for the water and the air and for the workers should be one they should be willing to comply with," he said.

Former MPP Eli Martel noted the idea for the group was sparked after the company visited Capreol to talk about its plans.

"I went to their open house and I got answers that they are going to have [a] state-of-the-art [facility], but what does that mean," Martel said.

The project, which is in the early stages of the environmental assessment process, is still years away from starting. Cliffs has yet to work out final details with the province on issues such as hydro costs.

Martel added the citizens’ group is not trying to slow down the project.

"We want to make sure it's done properly," he said.  "Because when you look at it, this operation is only about 10 miles across country from Capreol."

Martel said citizens with expertise in health and mining have volunteered to watch over the environmental assessment process.

A public meeting for the citizens group is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at the Capreol Millennium Resource Centre.