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‘The community earned this,’ mayor says of ferrochrome facility (4 photos)

After lengthy consultations, environmental studies, new plant to employ up to 500 people in Sault by 2028

After a long and hopeful sales pitch process, Sault Ste. Marie will get a ferrochrome production facility.

“After a lengthy and very thorough process which involved four northern Ontario communities, I’m pleased to announce Noront Resources has selected Sault Ste. Marie to be the site of its ferrochrome production facility,” said Alan Coutts, Noront Resources president and CEO, to a loud round of applause from a large group of private and public sector figures gathered at the Civic Centre Tuesday.

The plant, to be located west of Algoma Steel, will process chrome ore from deposits Noront will be drawing from the Ring of Fire region, to be converted into ferrochrome for the U.S. stainless steel market.

Ultimately for Noront, it came down to a choice between the Sault and Timmins.

Next steps, Coutts said, include a full pre-feasibility study on the selected site and a public consultation process with the community, along with an environmental assessment, all of which will take three years to complete.

A crucial all-season access road to the Ring of Fire region is underway, advanced by the provincial government and First Nations communities.

Coutts said Noront estimates construction of the ferrochrome production facility will begin in 2025, the plant up and running by 2028.

During construction, the project will employ up to 1,500 people, and once in operation, employ 300 to 500 people.   

“The real tipping point for Sault Ste. Marie was the operating cost advantage of being on the Great Lakes where the Sault is situated,” Coutts said, speaking to SooToday.

“That was really important because we’ll be bringing a lot of materials such as coal and other goods, and it’s an advantage to bring them in over the lake, and also being able to share the infrastructure to unload coal and other materials Algoma Steel provides was the real determining factor which reduced the operating costs the other bidding sites had.”

“It’s an opportunity for us to use some brownfield property and use it gainfully. It’s an opportunity for Sault Ste. Marie as a city to grow, and that has a benefit to us as an employer and attract more families and more infrastructure. It’s all on the upside as far as I’m concerned,” said Michael McQuade, Algoma Steel CEO.

“Diversification of the economy is an important part of this,” McQuade told us, adding he is looking forward to having Noront as a geographical neighbour for Algoma.

“It feels good when hard work pays off,” said Sault Mayor Christian Provenzano.

“I want to recognize the whole team. We believe Sault Ste. Marie is a great place to do business and we proved that to Noront. I worked with the city and the EDC and I think we did a good job representing our community.”

“This is just the end of the first stage,” Provenzano added.

“There’s a tremendous amount of work to do. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. There will be years of permitting processes here, environmental and economic assessments, community engagement, First Nations consultation, so the work has just begun and we have to do that work properly.”

“There are hundreds and hundreds of really high quality good paying jobs, a billion dollar investment involving our community and it shows us a brighter future. I think the community deserves it. We’ve had a tough number of years here but we stuck together and we worked hard through those years, and we’re rounding the corner, and the community earned this,” Provenzano said.  

“We’re extremely excited. We’ve been working with the team at Noront for three years. We put an excellent proposal together. There are some really good cross features such as work force and location that makes Sault Ste. Marie an ideal fit for this project,” said Dan Hollingsworth, Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) executive director.   

“When we went to Toronto the pitch was amazing and I think we can accomplish anything in this community when we act united, all levels of government, private sector, community at large, First Nations, there is nothing we cannot do,” said Sault MP Terry Sheehan, addressing Tuesday’s audience.

“I set out on a mission when I decided to seek this office and part of that mission was accomplished today. There’s still a long road ahead and I will not rest until I can see us accomplish all the goals I set out to do,” said Sault MPP Ross Romano.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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