City and SSMEDC issue statement on Noront FPF project

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The City of Sault Ste. Marie (City) and Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) would like to address some of the concerns and misinformation regarding the proposed ferrochrome production facility project (FPF) by Noront Resources Ltd. The City/SSMEDC are providing the public with this background information as a means of offering clarity.

The land and engineering agreements reached by Noront with Algoma Steel and Hatch Engineering that were announced to the public on September 20, 2019 do not supersede community consultation, First Nation consultation or the environmental assessment processes. The agreements do not mean the facility will be built, and should not be interpreted as a final determination. In order for Noront to advance to the next phase of project development, they needed to reach a commercial agreement with Algoma Steel on the land and hire an engineering firm to assist with facility design.

Moving forward, it is important to recognize the following:

  • The project is subject to rigorous provincial and federal assessments and permitting processes;
  • These processes will be lengthy and provide an opportunity for community input;
  • The City/SSMEDC have made it clear to Noront that they will not support the construction of an FPF on Algoma’s property if the City/SSMEDC believes or has reason to believe that the operation will have an adverse effect on people’s health or if the City/SSMEDC is not satisfied that the facility can operate safely.

Noront has committed to a comprehensive, multi-year environmental assessment process along with community and First Nation consultation, and to utilizing best-in-class technologies and environmental practices. Noront will be hosting an introductory public session on October 23, 2019 where anyone with an interest in learning more about the project can attend the session and hear directly from the company. This meeting will be followed by many more public meetings over the next five years with more detailed information being provided to the public as it becomes available.

 

Background

The project team that developed the community’s submission was comprised of representation from the City and SSMEDC, along with support provided by sector experts. The submission process has been open and transparent since it began, and the next phase of project development will continue to be open and transparent.

The FPF is the second major project proposed for the Ring of Fire development. Prior to any mining activity of chromite ore that would serve the FPF, the steps include the completion of the environmental assessment for the road to the Ring of Fire, construction of the road, completion of the environmental assessment for the Eagle’s Nest Nickel mine (first project of the Ring of Fire), completion of the construction of the Eagle’s Nest mine and the mine becoming operational.

 

Timeline

Fall 2016
  • The SSMEDC reached out to Noront to explore opportunities for business development in Sault Ste. Marie related to the Ring of Fire development.
  • Noront conducted a visit to the community which was reported widely in the media.
May 2017
  • City Council unanimously passes resolution following Noront visit.
  • The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and the SSMEDC host a presentation on the Ring of Fire presented by Alan Coutts, President and Chief Executive Officer and Stephen Flewelling, Chief Development Officer, Noront Resources Limited.
November 2017
  • The SSMEDC receives information package on the site requirements from Noront Resources. The package serves as a guideline from Noront Resources.
  • On November 20, 2017 a presentation was made by the SSMEDC and City staff in open Council to provide an update on the project and submission process.
November 2017 – February 2018
  • A project team, comprised of representatives from the City and the SSMEDC, gathers information on the community’s competitive advantages and ability to host the FPF. A submission is ultimately made to Noront Resources. Submissions are also made by Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins. The submission from Sault Ste. Marie includes over 73 letters of support from local businesses and organizations.
January 2018
  • A website was launched by the SSMEDC and City as they were working on a proposal to have Sault Ste. Marie considered as a potential site to host a FPF. A media release was issued and the site provided details on this initiative, including frequently asked questions, a timeline and updates.
July 2018
  • Noront shortlists Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins as the two remaining potential FPF sites.
May 2019
  • Sault Ste. Marie is ultimately selected by Noront as the host location for a FPF based on locational factors and the city’s competitive advantages.
September 2019
  • Noront announces that it has reached land and engineering agreements with Algoma Steel and Hatch Engineering, along with a date for the introductory open house (October 23).

22 COMMENTS

  1. There was a ferrochrome smelter located here before…My Grandfather worked at it. When it closed people had a choice to find other work or move to Memphis, TN where the parent company’s other ferrochrome smelter was and work at it…My grandfather chose to move to Memphis and continued working at a ferrochrome smelter till he retired, then moved back to our area.

    He died of lung disease at 80.

    My other grandfather retired from our local steel plant and died of complications from lung disease at 90.

    Perhaps the old ferrochrome facility is where a lot of the mercury and other pollutants in our water originates from…As back then I’m sure there were no lined pools and everything was released directly into the St Mary’s River. Sounds like a story the museum should be working on!

  2. If I was a betting man I would place my bet on a Garforthian exit on this whole project. Peter is the mouse that roared.

  3. It is hard to have faith in the “assessment and permitting processes”. The “processes” have resulted in the ministry exempting the province’s biggest steel mills — ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton, U.S. Steel in Hamilton and Nanticoke, and Essar Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie — from the limits on emissions of particulate matter, benzene and benzo-alpha-pyrene benzene. The “processes” allow steel mills to exceed the limits by as much as 250 times. Under he “processes”, since 2010 Essar Steel Algoma has been fined $159,750 for environmental pollution offences. In the same time period it received $78,362,926 in funding from the federal and provincial governments. Big companies with poor environmental protection records get rich on pubic payouts. Taxpayers pay the fines and the companies continue to pollute. Government is totally invested in ferrochrome production,. all the way from Doug Ford to our city hall. Ford has stated that he is making the development of the Ring of Fire and the ferrochrome industry the centerpiece of his economic plan for the province. He has also repeatedly said that he will cut through “red tape” to make Ontario open for business and development. The legitimate concern is that this “red tape” includes things like environmental safeguards and warnings. There can be little doubt that government, from Queen’s Park to Foster Drive, with their “processes” will minimize the environmental concerns and try to influence any environmental assessment

    • No doubt. Optimistically, I hope to see a remediation process undertaken by Algoma Steel that rivals what Vale has undertaken in Sudbury (although they could do much better). A social license to continue industrial operations, in this day/age, requires more than shareholder satisfaction. Legislative intervention is limited and full of loopholes, social intervention is key to the future of our public health. I so wish there was a way to convince our local industrial emitter to take a hit on its profits and spend money to protect us. I have invested time and money in this city, and have a vested interest in the area. I regard all forms of pollution that enter my property as invasive, and have little respect for companies that want to purchase a way out of being environmentally responsible. My family has no recourse, currently. it is very disheartening to see the possibility of more industrial pollutants coming our way. Zero tolerance is the only way forward.

  4. Nothing but BS.
    The citizens dint want it, north or south of the boarder!! Why can’t our city officials understand this!
    It’s a major issue if doctors in this city are threatening to leave if this goes through! We hardly have enough doctors as it is!

  5. Since when does our city or any government agency have our health concerns at the forefront ?
    Money is always the driving factor . No matter how many people sign the petition to keep this cancer causing , death plant out . Money will prevail , it will come , I’ll effects or not .

  6. Ok.. so.. you made the announcement before the consultation BEFORE talking to 2 very important groups AND an environmental assessment…

    Telling us you “didn’t” is the equivalent of “these are not the droids you are looking for”.

    We call ########.

    • It is hard to have faith in the “assessment and permitting processes”. The “processes” have resulted in the ministry exempting the province’s biggest steel mills — ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton, U.S. Steel in Hamilton and Nanticoke, and Essar Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie — from the limits on emissions of particulate matter, benzene and benzo-alpha-pyrene benzene. The “processes” allow steel mills to exceed the limits by as much as 250 times. Under he “processes”, since 2010 Essar Steel Algoma has been fined $159,750 for environmental pollution offences. In the same time period it received $78,362,926 in funding from the federal and provincial governments. Big companies with poor environmental protection records get rich on pubic payouts. Taxpayers pay the fines and the companies continue to pollute. Government is totally invested in ferrochrome production,. all the way from Doug Ford to our city hall. Ford has stated that he is making the development of the Ring of Fire and the ferrochrome industry the centerpiece of his economic plan for the province. He has also repeatedly said that he will cut through “red tape” to make Ontario open for business and development. The legitimate concern is that this “red tape” includes things like environmental safeguards and warnings. There can be little doubt that government, from Queen’s Park to Foster Drive, with their “processes” will minimize the environmental concerns and try to influence any environmental assessment

    • Peter Chow The steel plant is a very old facility which is part of its problem. I would have thought that an educated person such as yourself would have more sense than to be participating in fearmongering rhetoric. Go to the meeting on October 23rd and stop getting people worked up over speculation. You disappoint me sir.

    • Hilary Evans here’s the thing, Hilary…..the inherent nature of these facilities means they are polluters. It might be less with a newer facility but there is still pollution. Herein lies the problem….ANY pollution it produces gets ADDED to the excessive amounts Algoma Steel emits. And being situated where they want to put it ONE spill/accident will be one too many.And here is the kicker…..the reason they want to put it there is CONVENIENCE and making it cheaper and easier to ship.

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