Sudbury’s Bid for Noront’s Ferrochrome Production Facility

 

In July 2018, Noront Resources announced that despite a strong bid submission, Greater Sudbury was not one of two communities selected to advance to the next phase in the company’s site selection process.

Based on its requirements, Noront cited a number of factors in its decision that included the significant capital expenditure needed to construct the facility relative to some other communities due to a lack of existing onsite infrastructure that could be repurposed; and negative feedback from some members of the community.

Although Greater Sudbury was unsuccessful in the bid, Noront indicated that Greater Sudbury possesses a clear advantage in terms of ongoing operating costs, including its competitive property tax regime, strategic location at the junction of the CN and CP rail lines, existing skilled labour pool, and robust mining supply and services sector.

Four cities had originally been selected to provide submissions to Noront Resources - Greater Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay. Noront Resources has selected Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie to advance to the next phase.

The City has developed a solid working relationship with Noront Resources and looks forward to continuing this partnership to maximize opportunities for Greater Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Service sector.

Noront plans to make its final decision later this summer. Construction of the ferrochrome production facility is proposed to begin within the next five to ten years at a cost of approximately $1 billion. The facility will create approximately 350 permanent jobs and approximately 150 indirect jobs in the successful community.

For informational purposes, we will maintain the content on this site to provide greater detail on the City’s bid and the ferrochrome production facility.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Sudbury?

Greater Sudbury is the mining capital of the world.  We are a community that understands and embraces mining and mineral processing. Mining is in our roots, with more than 120 years of mining experience in Ontario’s largest geographic municipality, and the home of the only two operating smelters in Ontario, it is not surprising that Greater Sudbury would be the ideal location to host Noront Resources proposed Ferrochrome Production Facility (FPF). 

 In fact, 77% of residents surveyed are in favour of locating a ferrochrome production facility in Greater Sudbury.

Source: Oracle Poll, Conducted between Jan. 8 and Jan. 15, 2018, N=600 sample, margin of error ± 4.0%, 19/20 times

We have the talent. Our people have the expertise to ensure the smooth and efficient operations of the three global mining companies that call Greater Sudbury home – Glencore, KGHM, and, Vale. To prepare future generations of talent, our three postsecondary education institutions; Laurentian University, Cambrian College, and Collège Boréal, are producing the well-educated bilingual graduates that go on to work in the mining and mineral processing industry – locally and around the globe.

We are ideally located. Centrally located just 390 km north of Toronto, we are just a one hour flight or a four-hour drive.  Sudbury is the only place in northern Ontario where the CNR and CPR main lines converge. This gives Sudbury a distinct advantage for the efficient and cost-effective transportation of chromite from the Ring of Fire to the Ferrochrome Production Facility and beyond.

We have the industrial base. In addition the mining and mineral processing industries based in Sudbury, our community is also home to the world’s most diversified mining supply and services cluster. Our cluster consists of more than 300 mining supply firms employing more than 12,000 people. These firms offer all the products and services required to design, build, operate, and, maintain a smelter.

We are committed to environmental sustainability. Greater Sudbury is proud of our global reputation for environmental remediation and stewardship. Our community continues to work in collaboration with the mining industry, government, and, academia to heal the landscape through our regreening efforts.

What site was recommended to Noront?

City staff, in partnership with our local industry partners, identified and explored several appropriately-zoned sites that would meet and exceed Noront’s criteria. With permission from Vale Canada Limited, the lands immediately south of the former Inco Coniston Smelter Site has been identified as the optimal location for Noront’s’ FPF. This site is zoned M3-Heavy Industrial, which would allow FPF development without any rezoning. The site is also situated strategically from a logistics and services perspective.

This brownfield site lies to the south of the Lopes-owned Coniston Industrial Park, and south of the former Inco smelter and stacks. It is adjacent to both the CN and CP Rail Lines and can be accessed by road both through the Town of Coniston and directly from Highway 17 via the Coniston Hydro Road.

Why was the former Coniston Smelter Site selected?

  • The property is designated as General Industrial land in the City of Greater Sudbury’s Official Plan. This designation allows a range of industrial activities, such as manufacturing and processing facilities.
  • The proposed property is zoned M3-Heavy Industrial, which permits a variety of industrial uses, including smelting and related uses.
  • The site is a designated brownfield site, which is one of the requirements from Noront Resources. Brownfields are places that have previously been used for commercial or industrial use, but now sit idle.
  • The site is ideally located near the convergence of the CN and CP rail lines allowing for efficient transportation of chromite ore from the Ring of Fire and finished ferrochrome bound for the US.
  • The site can be accessed either directly from Hwy 17 via Coniston Hydro Road or through the community of Coniston via 2nd Avenue to Government Road to Edward Avenue. We have recommended to Noront that large industrial vehicles use the Coniston Hydro Road to minimize traffic in the Coniston community.

Why was the Moose Mountain Site not recommended?

In 2012, Cliffs Natural Resources had selected the former Moose Mountain Mine site north of Capreol as the location for its proposed FPF. Cliffs had undertaken extensive baseline studies as part of its Environmental Assessment process and all of this information now belongs to Noront.

When Noront Resources initiated planning for its FPF project, the company  indicated that it would prefer to be closer to the community and existing infrastructure. Noront has established new site selection criteria for its proposed project and the Moose Mountain location was no longer seen as the best recommendation

What is Noront planning to build?

Noront is proposing to develop a Ferrochrome Production Facility (FPF) in Northern Ontario, to process chromite ore from the Ring of Fire, located in the James Bay lowlands. This production facility will be a state of the art facility that will be designed, built and operated in accordance with all the required federal and provincial environmental regulations and will meet the standard for best practice for a facility of this type.

Source: Noront Ferrochrome Production Facility – Environmental Issues and Approach

What is a ferrochrome production facility?

A Ferrochrome Production Facility prepares and transforms chromite ore deposits into ferrochrome, which is then used to create stainless steel products.

What is ferrochrome?

Ferrochrome is created with iron, chrome and oxygen. The high-grade chromite ore to be taken from the Ring of Fire area is grinded and put through a processing plant that requires high levels of energy to melt the ore and add carbon to separate the oxygen from the iron and chrome. The completed iron and chrome product is called ferrochrome.

How much ferrochrome will be produced at this facility?

The FPF will be built in two stages. The first stage of the facility will produce approximately 200,000 – 280,000 tonnes of ferrochrome per year depending on final furnace selection and market conditions. The second stage will produce approximately 560,000 tonnes of ferrochrome per year. Ferrochrome is a key component of stainless steel.


Source: Noront Ferrochrome Production Facility – Environmental Issues and Approach

What are the next steps?

It is expected that Noront Resources will select the city in which it will locate its FPF in summer 2018. The company has enlisted Hatch Ltd. to assist in the bid review and selection process.

Once the site has been confirmed in one of the four cities (Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie or Thunder Bay), a thorough environmental assessment and community consultation process will take place.

The comprehensive environmental assessment process is expected to take approximately 3 to 5 years to complete. 

The environmental assessment process ensures participation of government and the public as well as thorough communications and engagement with First Nations communities.

If the environmental assessments and community consultations are successful, construction on the site would begin in approximately 5 years. 

The cost of construction is estimated at $1 billion dollars and would take several years to build. The production facility would create 350 jobs and 150 indirect jobs.

What is an environmental assessment and will Noront complete one?

Noront Resources is committed to environmental sustainability and has outlined its plans and strategy to mitigate any environmental concerns now and in the years to come.

The environmental assessment will ensure that environmental and health risks, issues and concerns are identified, managed and mitigated. Noront is committed to best practices in environmental protection and recognizes that a facility of this type does not exist in Ontario. Best practices from mature jurisdictions where ferrochrome facilities exist, such as Finland, will be benchmarked and appropriately integrated in the design and management of the facility.

Environmental Assessment (EA) is a planning and environmental management tool used to predict, analyze and interpret the potential effects of a project on the environment and to identify measures to avoid, reduce or lessen (mitigate) potential adverse effects, and to promote sustainability. The EA process involves the following key steps:

  • Describe the existing environmental features of the land, water and air that would support the Project (baseline studies);
  • Describe potential project interactions with the environment and likely adverse and beneficial effects of the project;
  • Propose measures to mitigate the potential adverse effects; and
  • Assess whether the project would cause significant adverse effects despite implementation of mitigation measures; effects remaining after mitigation measures are in place are known as “net effects” or “residual effects”. Technical specialists carry out the process for a number of disciplines that are part of the physical, biological and human environments.

 The process ensures participation of public and communications with Indigenous peoples in defining and reviewing the assessment.  The company will also work closely with various levels of government throughout this process.

 The comprehensive environmental assessment process is expected to take approximately 3 to 5 years to complete. 

 Noront Resources has publicly stated that it will complete an EA and will work closely with all levels of government, communities and First Nations communities just as they have done with its Eagle’s Nest Project

Source: Noront Ferrochrome Production Facility – Environmental Issues and Approach

ACTIONS BY NORONTGOVERNMENT REVIEWSPUBLIC REVIEWS
Write a Project Description Federal Environmental Assessment Agency. Outcome: Federal Guidelines for Noront Environmental Assessment activities. Review period for public comments on Project Description
Prepare Environmental Assessment “Draft Terms of Reference” outlining how baseline EA will be done. Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change reviews and amends.  
Hold Open House meetings in local communities to share plans and results with the public, and to obtain comments which must be responded to in the EA report.   Public notifications of Open Houses are provided in media (newspapers, bulletin boards,
websites).
After collecting base line environmental data and meeting requirements of the Terms of Reference, write the Draft Environmental Assessment Report EA Report is reviewed by Federal and Ontario government scientists and experts. EA Report is available for public review and comments. Noront must address these
comments
Final EA Report is prepared with any comments or actions from government reviews of the draft report and public comments Final EA Report is reviewed by MoECC and CEAA. Once satisfied the EA is complete, a recommendation is made to the Minister of E and CC. Federal officials prepare an Environmental Impact Statement that the Federal Environment Minister will review and sign if satisfied with it. Public review of final documents and comment periods.
Once the EA approvals are signed, Noront begins the other permit applications, like air emissions, water taking and discharge, power connections, and other applicable permits Government experts review the permit applications and state any requirements for additional information. Public reviews are part of most permit applications.

Why did Mayor Bigger Visit Finland?

In January 2018, Mayor Brian Bigger, in partnership with Wahnapitae First Nation Chief Ted Roque, led a delegation to Tornio, Finland to meet with mining industry leaders from Outokumpu, a world class ferrochrome production facility. The delegation also met with municipal, public health and economic development officials. The visit was an opportunity to learn from what is considered the best ferrochrome production facility in the world.

 

Finland and the European Union have worked closely with Outokumpu to develop innovative ways to create a facility that is environmentally responsible and sustainable. The delegation was pleased to learn about the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the “Circular Economy”, a principle wherein, they keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. Of particular interest was the reuse of ferrochrome slag as an aggregate in construction and road building.

 

Quick Facts

 About Noront Resources

Noront Resources is a Canadian-based mining company, and has the largest land position in the Ring of Fire, an emerging multi-metals area located in the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario.

About Ferrochrome and Ferrochrome Production Facilities

Ferrochrome is created with iron, chrome and oxygen. The high-grade chromite ore to be taken from the Ring of Fire area is grinded and put through a processing plant that requires high levels of energy to melt the ore and add carbon to separate the oxygen from the iron and chrome. The completed iron and chrome product is called ferrochrome.

About the Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is the name given to the emerging mining district in the James Bay Lowlands region, located 500 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario. To date, deposits of chromite, nickel-copper-platinum-palladium and copper-zinc have been found including Noront’s three advanced development projects. Dozens of other showings have been noted, including those rich in gold, titanium-vanadium and diamonds. Learn more

 About Chromium VI (Source, Public Health Ontario)

  • Chromium VI (also known as hexavalent chromium) is used to make pigments for dyeing textiles, tanning leather and colouring glass. Chromium is used widely for electroplating and for making alloys, including stainless steel. It also has uses in wood preservation and corrosion control.
  • Chromium VI can be acutely toxic at oral chromate doses of around 50-70 mg/kg body weight which are vastly greater than would be expected in a properly controlled workplace.
  • While health and safety risks are associated with exposures to Chromium VI and many other hazards in the mining and metal processing industries, considerable knowledge and experience exist from which to draw health-protective strategies and techniques.
  • A comprehensive health and environmental impact assessment prior to the initiation of any chromite mining and processing can review discharges to the environment and potential pathways of exposure for workers and members of the public. Specific mitigation and control strategies can be then employed to ensure that objectives related to protection of human health and the environment are met.

 Outokumpu – Tornio, Finland

  • The processing facility is completely closed so that all off gases are captured and controlled.  Slag production is also conducted in a manner that controls dust and the inert end product is turned into construction aggregate that is used to build roads and as a base for building foundations
  • The plant is close enough to the community that it is easily seen from the downtown and as many as a third of its employees are able to bike to work. The closest homes to the facility are less than 2 kms away.
  • The complex is directly on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia where the Tornio River, one of Lapland’s most popular fishing streams, meets the sea. 

 

map of Outokumpu Tornio Mill in finland

 

News

 Greater Sudbury Finalizes Bid for Noront Ferrochrome Production Facility
https://www.greatersudbury.ca/city-hall/news-and-public-notices/2018/greater-sudbury-finalizes-bid-for-noront-ferrochrome-production-facility/

 Mayor Bigger to lead delegation to meet with mining leaders in Finland
https://www.greatersudbury.ca/city-hall/news-and-public-notices/2018/mayor-bigger-to-lead-delegation-to-meet-with-mining-leaders-in-finland/

 

Resources

Noront Ferrochrome Production Facility – Environmental Issues and Approach

Public Health Ontario: Case Study: Chromite mining and processing

Fact Sheet

 

Contact us

 You may have additional questions about Sudbury’s bid submission or Noront’s Ferrochrome Production Facility. We welcome you to contact us at sudburyFPF@greatersudbury.ca.