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Bound by wild desire, mayor falls into burning Ring of Fire

Mayor Christian Provenzano is pushing hard to keep his foot in the door of Noront Resources Ltd. - the Ring of Fire developer that wants to build a ferrochrome smelter somewhere in Ontario
Noront Soo
Last month, Tom Dodds from the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation hosted Al Coutts and Steve Flewelling from Noront Resources Ltd.

Plans by a Toronto-based mineral exploration company to build a ferrochrome smelter somewhere in Ontario may come up for discussion at Monday's meeting of Sault Ste. Marie City Council.

Mayor Christian Provenzano has placed a letter he wrote to Noront Resources Ltd. on the meeting's agenda.

Noront has the largest land position in the Ring of Fire, the massive emerging multi-metals development project located in the mineral-rich James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario.

This fall, the company disclosed that it is considering the Sault, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Timmins and Sudbury as possible locations for a ferrochrome smelter to service the Ring of Fire project.

Ferrochrome is primarily used in making stainless steel with a chromium content of 10 per cent to 20 per cent.

Industry watchdog MiningWatch Canada has expressed concern about air and water pollution issues related to ferrochrome smelting, but Mayor Provenzano advises Noront that "I am confident that Sault Ste. Marie is the most logical and advantageous location in the province for such a facility."

"I expect that our community would be as enthusiastic as I am about the opportunity to diversify our economic base and participate more substantially in Northern Ontario's mining economy," the mayor says in his letter, sent after two key Noront executives visited the Sault last month.

In a 2012 literature review, MiningWatch Canada advised that "ferrochrome arc furnace dust is categorized as toxic waste in Canada and must be treated before disposal in order to prevent leaching toxins into the environment."
 
"Health risks via inhalation are also a concern. Smelting also produces Cr-VI contaminated slag, with estimated total chromium contents of two to 12 per cent," the watchdog group reported.

The following is the full text of Mayor Provenzano's letter to Noront Resources Ltd.

Monday's City Council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

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Christian C. Provenzano, B.A., LL.B.
Mayor, Corporation of City of Sault Ste. Marie

Allan Coutts, CEO
Stephen Flewelling, CDO
Noront Resources Ltd.
110 Yonge Street, Suite 400
Toronto, ON, M5C 1T4

November 8, 2016

Mr. Coutts and Mr. Flewelling,

I am writing to thank you for taking the time to visit Sault Ste. Marie and for meeting with me.

As I communicated to you during our meeting, I am very supportive about the prospect of Sault Ste. Marie becoming the host location of Noront's proposed ferrochrome smelter.

I am confident that Sault Ste. Marie is the most logical and advantageous location in the province for such a facility.

I understand that the smelter, as with most aspects of the Ring of Fire development, is a longer-term undertaking that will take some time to come to fruition.

I also recognize that other municipalities are vying to host the facility and that economic considerations will ultimately carry the day.

However, I suggest that Sault Ste. Marie has all of the requirements for a successful operation.

Our city has a tradition of heavy industry and numerous brownfield sites available for redevelopment.

We have a very reliable electrical distribution network and we are net supplier of electricity to the provincial grid.

We have a skilled workforce that is familiar with the technologies your facility would use and two very capable post-secondary institutions.

Our strategically favourable location and existing transportation network provide reliable and cost-effective shipping to the potential finishing plants.

I expect that our community would be as enthusiastic as I am about the opportunity to diversify our economic base and participate more substantially in Northern Ontario's mining economy.

Should you have any follow-up questions about the community or what it can offer, I know the staff you met with would be glad to answer them.

If there is anything that I can do personally do to be of assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office.

Thank you again for visiting Sault Ste. Marie.

I look forward to the next time we are able to meet.

Sincerely,

Christian Provenzano

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