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Mayor George Pirie Says There Is Still A Chance For Ferrochrome Smelter in Timmins

May 7, 2019

Despite the announcement that Sault Ste. Marie was Noront's choice for its ferrochrome smelter to refine chromate from the Ring of Fire, an upbeat Timmins Mayor George Pirie says Timmins still has a chance to become the preferred site.
 
Earlier Noront Resources Ltd. chose the Algoma Steel Inc.in Sault Ste. Marie as the location for its ferrochrome smelter.
 
"We believe that this is just the first step," Mayor Pirie said at news conference in Timmins. "We believe that there still is time to affect this decision simply because Noront will not be the company  that builds this facility."
 
"They (Noront) will need to work with a company with deeper pockets and Glencore would be an example of such a company although there are others," Pirie said. " So it gives us time to continue to affect the decision."
 
The Timmins location for the ferrochrome smelter was Glencore'Kidd MET property, the former site of  Kidd's Smelter. Glencore was an active member of the Timmins bid committee.
 
In making its decision, Noront acknowledged that the Timmins was the slightly lower capital cost option; and  Sault Ste. Marie had a lower operating cost per pound of chrome in ferrochrome.
 
"We know in their announcement that from a capital cost point of view our site was the preferred location," Pirie said.  "And we came out slightly less from an operating point of view."
 
Piried said that it is far easier to improve upon the operating costs and the capital costs are more critical factor in locating a smelter.
 
"From my background and my experience the one thing you can improve on is the operating cost," explained the Mayor. " So we are still in the game.  From my point of view we will continue to work hard to affect this decision with the eventual partner of Noront that will eventually be building this smelter."
 
Prior to becoming Mayor of Timmins, Pirie was the Chief Financial Officer and also the President and CEO of Placer Dome which operated the Dome Mine and Mill in Timmins.  
 
Mayor Pirie said the announcement that Sault Ste. Marie was Noront's choice was not a cause for dismay.
 
"Though it is disappointing there is lots of work yet to be done," Mayor Pirie said. "I don't think we lost, I think that Timmins is the best site."
 
"The announcement allows Noront to market its project better now that it has a smelter site, but we have lots of time to affect the decision with the eventual builder of the facility," Pirie added.
 
 Pirie also noted that the ferrochrome smelter will take time to build and may extend beyond 2025 they year of its proposed completion.
 
"They say it will be built by 2025, but we know through their process that they have to build a nickle mine first to begin to access the chromite deposit," Pirie said. "The MOUs haven't been signed with the indigenous people, and we do not believe they have the environmental approvals to build a ferrochrome facility on the shores of the Great Lakes."
 
"Timmins  It is a very good location, a brown field location - it met all the criteria to fit the bid," stated Pirie.
 
Pirie noted that the Kidd Smelter site was well suited from a transportation point  of view, as Kidd Mine copper and zinc products were sold around the world.
 
"We got the rail connections that allow ous to get to Montreal and the ports of Quebec as well as into the mid-west states," noted Pirie. 
 
One of the factors that in the selection of Sault Ste. Marie may have been Noront's eying future sales to mid-western U.S. steel companies. But China and Europe are also large importers of ferrochrome for their steel industry.
 
Pirie thanked the partners that put together Timmins' Bid, Timmins Economic Development Corporation, Porcupine Engineering, Glencore, The Ontario Northland and  the hundreds of volunteer and hundreds of people who wrote in support of the Bring the Ring campaign, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce. 
 
"As you know we had the support of all the indigenous communities in the region on this bid, including Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN)," said Pirie..