Greater Sudbury officials are still awaiting word on whether an American company will build a smelter in the area to process chromite mined in the Ring of Fire.

However, they've already identified a site for the facility.

It's the site of the old Moose Mountain iron mine, north of Capreol.

The mine shut down in the 1970s.

Ward 7 city councillor Dave Kilgour said that history makes it a good spot for the smelter.

"It's a brownfield already," he noted.

"You're not going into fresh green virgin forest and trying to do something. It's already been used as a mine site for a considerable length of time, so I think some of the permits… might be easier to get."

Kilgour said he thinks hydro rates will be the key factor in whether the smelter is built in Sudbury.

The company with all the answers, Cliffs Natural Resources, has not said when it will make a decision.

Smelter could create 500 jobs

Cliffs is one of the major players in what is known as the Ring of Fire, a mining development located in the James Bay Lowlands.

The company calls its Black Thor project, located 500 km north of Thunder Bay, a potentially world-class chromite deposit.

The value of the chromite will become evident only once it's mined, processed and refined to ferrochrome. The product is sold to producers of stainless steel.

According to the company, the project could create as many as 1,300 jobs, including 500 in Capreol, if the smelter is built there.

Both Timmins and Thunder Bay are also vying for the smelter.


The Moose Mountain Mining company was located in Sellwood, a town that is now abandoned. ((Erik White CBC))

'It’s like a mating dance'

Kilgour recently toured the Moose Mountain Mine site in Capreol, and noted that the town of Sellwood once stood under the piles of slag.

Kilgour worked as a summer student for the mine, which operated in the 1950s and 60s. He said he thinks it will be the perfect spot for the smelter.

"It's almost like a mating dance. They know what they want and we know what we have to offer."

Kilgour said the key negotiations will be with the province, and what it plans to charge the company for electricity.

"I don't think there's much of a hurdle to get over as far as the land or the city," Kilgour added.

The owner of the land — who runs a logging company— said he is unable to comment on the proposed smelter at this time.