Councillor addressing concerns over Coniston smelter pitch

Sudbury city councillor Deb McIntosh held a public information session last night with the hopes of addressing concerns about the city's bid to have a ferrochrome smelter built in Coniston.

'I'm going to advocate for my residents,' says Deb McIntosh

Sudbury councillor Deb McIntosh says she's planning on advocating for constituents who have concerns about the city's pitch to locate a ferrochrome smelter in Coniston. (Deb McIntosh)

Sudbury city councillor Deb McIntosh held a public information session last night with the hopes of addressing concerns about the city's bid to have Noront Resources consider Coniston as a potential location for a ferrochrome smelter.

Sudbury is competing with Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay to build a multi-billion-dollar plant which would process chromite ore from the Ring of Fire and bring hundreds of jobs with it.

The city identified the old INCO smelter site in Coniston last month as the preferred location.

Up until then, many in Sudbury assumed that the proposed site would once again be the old Moose Mountain mine north of Capreol, which had been the selected site for this same smelter five years ago when Cliffs Natural Resources owned the chromite deposit.

Noront said it will be a few months before they've picked a site, but McIntosh said she's already heard from people in Coniston wondering what this will mean for their community.

"There are genuine concerns.Of course people remember what Coniston looked like in the '70s," she said.

"They remember the results of the mining and the smelting what happened to Coniston and they don't want that to happen again. They are concerned about having a ferrochrome plant. This is an unknown."

4 cities await Noront's decision

McIntosh said it was important for her to dig through the research on ferrochrome and relay information to her constituents.

"I got a couple of calls Friday after the [Noront] announcement with concerns," McIntosh said. "Immediately, I thought, we need to talk. People need to understand. this is not a city project. We bid like other cities, based on criteria that Noront set."

McIntosh said that the ball is right now in Noront's hands on deciding which city will land the facility, bringing with it over three hundred jobs, and sizeable economic spinoffs. But even if the company chooses Coniston, there are still other steps they need to take.

"If they choose Coniston, I'm going to dig in, naturally. I'm going to advocate for my residents, and work with both levels of government to ensure their questions are answered," McIntosh said.

"There's public consultations, environmental approval process," she said. "If they come, I'll be learning a lot about permitting processes."

Mayor comfortable with safety standards in Finland

Sudbury mayor Brian Bigger recently returned with from Tornio, Finland, home to a ferrochrome smelter since the 1960s.

"I'm very comfortable with their ferrochrome processes after talking with experts, and speaking to public health officials, and the people of Tornio," Bigger told CBC News.

"When you land here and see the proximity of the plant to water, and rivers going into the sea, they've taken all the precautions to make sure they're not affecting the water in anyway."