Cliffs to go ahead with $3.3-bn Canadian chromite project

Cliff's Natural Resources Inc (Cliffs), a major iron ore and coal miner, plans to advance its multi-billion dollar chromite project in the Ring of Fire area of Northern Ontario which could become North America's first large-scale chromite mining operation.

Ontario's northern development and mines minister Rick Bartolucci said yesterday that Cliffs intends to invest $3.3 billion to build a chromite mine and smelter at Capreol, near Sudbury that could lead to a new generation of prosperity in the north.

In a statement, Cliffs said that it has agreed in principle with the government of Ontario the key elements of the chromite project, including provincial infrastructure, and would work toward a definitive agreement.

The Ring of Fire area is located about 540km northeast of Thunder Bay and 240km west of James Bay in Ontario. It represents one of the most significant mineral regions in the province, and includes the largest chromite deposit ever discovered in North America and also holds potential for other minerals such as nickel, copper and platinum.

The $1.8 billion chromite smelter will process the ore mined and concentrated in the region and produce ferrochrome, a key ingredient used in the production of stainless steel. 

The smelter will provide employment to 450 people during construction, and another 450 people during its operation. The mine, mill and related infrastructure with an investment of $1.5 billion could create an additional 750 jobs directly, plus hundreds of indirect employment opportunities to the local population.