Thunder Bay

Sudbury gets $1.8B chromite smelter

Cliffs Natural Resources says it plans to build a $1.8-billion chromite processing facility in Capreol, north of Sudbury, that will employ hundreds of people.
Cliffs Natural Resources project mine site, known as Black Thor, is located about 540 km north of Thunder Bay, Ont. and 240 km west of James Bay in an area known as the Ring of Fire. (CBC)

Cliffs Natural Resources plans to build a $1.8-billion chromite processing facility near Capreol, north of Sudbury.

The move, officially announced Wednesday by the chromite mining company, is expected to employ 450 people during the smelter's construction, and as many as 450 people when the facility is in operation.

An additional 750 jobs could be created with the development of the company's Black Thor mine property located in the Ring of Fire, as well as its mill development, and construction and operation of transportation infrastructure.

The $1.8 billion for the processing facility is part of a $3.3-billion investment to build a chromite mine and transportation corridor in northern Ontario's Ring of Fire, according to the province.

Cliffs selected Sudbury as its future ferrochrome processing site, after "a lengthy and careful evaluation process, which included several alternative locations."

According to a company press release, the facility will be designed to process the chromite ore mined and concentrated in the region.

Cliffs said Sudbury was selected due to various economic and technical factors, including transportation logistics, labour, a long mining tradition, community support and access to electrical power.

Cliffs Natural Resources senior vice president Bill Boor. (Supplied)

"Today's decision is a major milestone in our overall plan and adds more clarity to the project. Now, we are able to commit to a project definition, moving us closer to making the chromite project reality," said Bill Boor, senior vice president of global ferroalloys for Cliffs.

Before Cliffs can make a final decision on the project in its entirety, the company must receive provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals, negotiate mutually acceptable agreements with affected First Nations communities, work with governments to address the lack of infrastructure in the Ring of Fire and complete its commercial and technical feasibility studies.

"We will continue our work to meet all of the requirements of the environmental assessment process as well as the expectations of the First Nations and local communities, especially with regards to the social, environmental, and economic performance of this project should it proceed," Boor said.

Several communities were in the running for the smelter, including Sudbury, Timmins, Thunder Bay and Greenstone. First Nations have been lobbying for a location on the CNR line between Aroland and Nakina.