Northern Ontario Cities Bid to Host Noront’s Ferrochrome Plant

- February 6th, 2018

Noront’s proposed $1-billion ferrochrome plant would offer 350 permanent smelter jobs, plus additional plant construction jobs.

Four Northern Ontario cities are vying to be chosen as the site of a ferrochrome processing plant proposed by Noront Resources (TSXV:NOT).

Noront closed the bidding process on Monday (February 5), and said it has received completed bid packages from Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and Thunder Bay.

The $1-billion ferrochrome processing plant is seen providing 350 permanent smelter jobs in the facility’s initial stage, plus additional plant construction jobs.

It will also create opportunities for related service jobs in the winning community, providing an economic boost. Noront has enlisted the help of Hatch, an engineering and consulting firm, to go through the bids.

Noront said its next steps include calculating indicative capital and operating costs, which will be reviewed in addition to community and First Nations support. The appropriateness of the site, environmental factors and access are just a few of the other factors that will be considered.

A winning bid is expected to be chosen in three to four months, after which Noront will engage with the winner to determine a mutually agreeable commercial arrangement for the use of the property. The company plans to publicly announce its decision and rationale for the site selection.

Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay are promoting their Great Lakes port connections, while Sudbury is touting its rail connections. The municipality is also promoting a brownfield property near a former smelter site owned by nickel miner Vale (NYSE:VALE). 

Sudbury is home to Ontario’s only two base metals smelters, and a city-commissioned poll shows that 77 percent of residents are in favor of the ferrochrome processing plant. 

The plant would process material from Noront’s chromite deposits, which include Blackbird, Black Thor and Big Daddy. They are all located in the James Bay Lowlands of Ontario in an emerging metals camp known as the Ring of Fire.

It is worth noting that the Ring of Fire has faced developmental headwinds for the last few years; however, Noront and other companies in the area remain confident that they can push through and move forward in this highly prospective region.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Shaw, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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