The mayor of Greenstone said the province needs to step in and help Cliffs Natural Resources make a decision to locate its chromite smelter in the Northwest.

Renald Beaulieu said it's clear that the communities closest to the mining activity in the mineral rich area in the James Bay Lowlands, known as the Ring of Fire, should see the most benefits.

"I think we shouldn't be lacking — and I'm going to say the word — a little backbone, in helping them make that decision," Beaulieu said Monday on the eve of the company holding an open house in his municipality.

Similar presentations have been held recently in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Timmins.

So far Cliffs has made Sudbury its chosen location for the smelter in its base case for an environmental assessment.

Officials from Greenstone have already presented a case at Queen's Park to have the smelter located within their muncipality at Exton Siding, between Aroland First Nation and Nakina.

Last month, the delegation met with company offiicals at their head office in Cleveland, Ohio, where they said Greenstone would be able to to supply a source of labour and electricity to the Exton site, which is adjacent to the railway.

The proposed project involves a mine site and an ore processing facility, a ferrochrome production facility and an integrated transportation system that will be used to move equipment, materials and people to and from the mine site.

Cliffs plans to start mining chromite in the Ring of Fire area by the end of 2013.

Aroland Chief Sonny Gagnon said Cliffs needs to come to his community to give residents a greater understanding of both the potential downside of the project, as well as the benefits under proposals to transfer ore from company trucks to trains on  First Nations' traditional territory.

"Along with the good, there's the bad side of things that development does, so we need to understand it. We really need to get our elders and youth to understand here's what's going to be happening," he said Monday.

Gagnon said an enhanced environmental assessment would bring public hearings to his community, but so far the government is sticking with a paper-based assessment of Cliffs plans.