Northern Ontario cities try to 'sell' themselves as best place to put Ring of Fire smelter

Four northern Ontario communities are vying for the chance to possibly be home to a ferrochrome smelter for the Ring of Fire.

Criteria includes community acceptance, understanding the role of First Nations, skilled workforce

Noront Resources is proposing to build a ferrochrome smelter in one of four northern Ontario communities for its Ring of Fire operations.

There is not even a road leading to the Ring of Fire. 

Yet four northern Ontario communities are vying for the chance to possibly become home to a ferrochrome smelter for the giant future mining operation. 

"Every one of those locations has some pluses and some minuses," said Alan Coutts, CEO of Noront Resources — the largest mining company remaining in the Ring of Fire. 

"Some are closer to markets. Some are further. Some have better elliptical infrastructure. Some have poorer. 

"A big aspect of what our decision-making will be around is community acceptance, understanding the role First Nations want to play, having a skilled workforce."

Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Sudbury are being considered as locations for the facility, which could bring with it hundreds of well-paying jobs whenever the chromite deposit in the James Bay lowlands goes into production.

Sudbury smelter 'makes a lot of sense,' deputy mayor says

"They're [Noront] looking for the best deal, but they want to be very transparent about the process and they want to make sure they get the right community," said Bruce Jago, executive director of Laurentian University's Goodman School of Mines.

"I'm quite sure the mayor of all four communities is going to be trying to sell its community as the best place to put a smelter in."

Sudbury was supposed to get a smelter for the mining project about five years ago when Cliffs Natural Resources was involved in the Ring of Fire, but the plan fell through. 

Still, Greater Sudbury Deputy Mayor Al Sizer is hopeful this time around. 

"I just think we're so well situated," Sizer said.

"[We're] So well positioned for us to house this development and this smelter here in Sudbury. It just makes a lot of sense to me."