That’s the hope, but Alan Coutts of Noront wouldn’t bite. Yes, the news of the new ferrochrome plant being built in the Soo sure would be music to the ears. We will have to wait for the official announcement which is still set anytime before the end of the year.
SaultOnline/ONNtv spoke with Mr. Coutts recently about an update on what was happening and the process still to unfold. “We’ve had engineering site visits with the management team at Algoma to physically see where the proposed plant would lay on their property and if there are changes that need to be made on the existing land to accommodate our proposal, how that would affect Algoma.”, he stated. “We are currently putting together the terms for a commercial term sheet with the two proposed sites which is very important to our decision on where to build the plant. We are continuing to meet with local officials such as the mayor, MP Sheehan, and I’ve also recently met with MPP Romano here in Toronto so things are progressing but ultimately we need to get some clarity from the new provincial government on a timetable for the access road that is to be built through First Nations land. This is very important as it is difficult to report to our partners in the Soo or Timmins about progress when we don’t have the access road timetable as of yet.”
In respect to the proposed access road (to transport raw materials), the three First Nations communities of Marten Falls, Webequie, and Aroland that would be affected are going to be the “proponents and conduct their own independent Environmental Assessments of the land affected by the proposed 300km road. We expect a bit more clarity in the coming weeks from Minister Rickford (Energy, Mines, and Northern Development.) on a few details timeline-wise……. but having said that, we are still shooting for the end of the year (final decision of plant location).”, stated Coutts.
The CCAA proceedings that have followed Algoma (formerly Essar Algoma) for three years is a bit of a stumbling block stated the CEO, but he feels it will emerge soon. At the end of the day, it would be preferred to have a “clear understanding of who your partnership is going to be with before you sign the final document (Commercial Agreement) we plan to be around for decades and it would be obviously more comfortable to know who your long-term partner is going to be”, stated Coutts.
Coutts also commented that he was happy to see Mayor Provenzano get re-elected “not only because of his knowledge concerning the process with Noront but because he is also very knowledgeable about CCAA proceedings.”
So all we can do is wait and let the entities work out the details. If it’s in the cards, Sault Ste. Marie may get an early New Years present.
It’s two minutes to midnight according to my watch.