Recently, Allan Coutts and Stephen Flewelling of Noront Resources visited Sault Ste. Marie to discuss progress on the Ring of Fire developments. I was glad to host these two gentlemen at the Mayor’s Office for a meeting to hear about the latest news from their company.
I first met with Mr. Coutts and Mr. Flewelling in November, 2016 to discuss their Ring of Fire holdings and the potential to construct a ferrochrome refinery in Sault Ste. Marie. I have been in touch with the company a few times since on these same topics. There have also been a number of employees at the EDC who have kept in close contact with Noront over the last several months and I want to credit them for their good work in promoting the Sault as a favourable location for a processing facility.
For those who may not be aware, we’re one of several sites vying to become home to an eventual ferrochrome refinery, including our fellow northern Ontario cities of Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Timmins. When you hear the scale of the facility, it’s easy to understand why it is so sought after—it will be a $1 billion construction project that will lead to 300+ well-paying industrial jobs once the plant becomes operational.
While the refinery would obviously be a longer-term project, we have all the elements that are needed for it in Sault Ste. Marie and as such I think that our location is being very seriously considered. Noront is hoping to select their preferred site towards the end of the summer, so we will continue working with it and promoting the case for Sault Ste. Marie.
Sault Ste. Marie hasn’t traditionally been a big player in the mining sector but we are hoping to get in the game because it certainly appears to be an industry that will grow in Northern Ontario. The Ring of Fire has potential to be one of the largest and most lucrative resource developments in Ontario’s recent history. If managed properly, the benefits will flow all across Northern Ontario, including in the many First Nations communities that are located near the mineral deposits.
It’s important for those of us who are elected officials in Northern Ontario to do all we can to encourage cooperation and collaboration so that the mineral wealth of the Ring of Fire can be developed responsibly for the benefit of our region. That includes ensuring that environmental concerns related to both mining and refining operations are addressed properly and mitigated as much as possible.
We are in the very early stages and there is a lot more work to be done, but we are up to doing it.