Capreol residents optimistic about smelter

People in the town of Capreol are hopeful their community will be home to a new smelter.

Cliffs Natural Resources considers smelting operation near Sudbury

People in the community of Capreol are hopeful their community will be home to a new smelter.

Cliffs Natural Resources is considering building a smelter on a site north of the town, located in Greater Sudbury.

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.

"Well, I think it's a great idea," said Capreol resident Gerald Cummings. "I'd like to see it go in out here. It'll bring jobs to the area and hopefully have people move into the community."

Lynn Mazzuca, a business owner in the former railway town,  agreed.

"It would be great to have young families come into town," she said.

No decisions made yet

Cliffs Natural Resources still hasn't decided where to build the smelter, but it has what it calls a "base case" for its Ring of Fire chromite project. The plan involves constructing a production facility at the site of an old iron mine about 20 km from Capreol.

"From what we know of it … I think for now it would be a positive thing for our community and we look forward to them setting up shop and hopefully bringing some jobs to town," said another business owner, Todd Mazzuca.

Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk and city staff  met with representatives from Cliffs Natural Resources in Cleveland Sept. 26. The city officials said they're hoping to convince Cliffs to commit to building the smelter near Capreol.

The company isn't saying when it expects to make a decision.

The Ring of Fire mining project is still subject to an environmental assessment.