Skip to content

Sudbury mayor to check out Finnish ferrochrome smelter

City’s bid for Ring of Fire processing plant prompts trip to Outokumpu

Since Greater Sudbury is one of the four cities in the hunt for a ferrochrome smelter, Mayor Brian Bigger is heading overseas to Finland on a fact-finding trip to see how one operates for himself.

A Jan. 10 Greater Sudbury news release called the visit to the Outokumpu mine and mill complex “an opportunity to learn from what is considered the best ferrochrome production facility in the world.”

The group leaves Jan. 13 and returns on Jan. 18.

The Sudbury delegation will also meet with municipal, public health and economic development officials.

Joining Bigger on the trip to Tornio, Finland is Wahnapitae First Nations Chief Ted Roque, city councillor and Sudbury and District Health Unit Board chair René Lapierre, Greater Sudbury Development Corporation executive board member Paul Kusnierczyk, Greater Sudbury Director of Economic Development Ian Wood, and the mayor’s chief of staff Melissa Zanette.

Outokumpu has been in operation for 50 years and considered a leading edge and environmentally responsible ferrochrome production facility. Bigger and delegation intend to gain knowledge of those practices.

Noront Resources, the biggest mining player in the Ring of Fire, is looking at Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Thunder Bay/Fort William First Nation to build a ferrochrome smelter.

As part of a competitive bid process, the cities must file their submissions by Feb. 2.

Noront tentatively expects to make their selection in late spring or early summer.

Sudbury’s pitch will be that it has the expertise in metal processing facilities as the Sudbury mining complex contains eight operating mines, two mills, two smelters and a nickel refinery.

Cutting the ribbon on a smelter could be five to 10 years out but there are 350 plant jobs at stake for a chromite processing facility that is potentially scalable and will create many supply spinoffs for industrial service companies.

Noront is looking at employing electric arc furnace technology for the smelter. It would be the first such facility permitted in Ontario since the Kidd Metallurgical Site in Timmins in 1980.

“The construction of a ferrochrome production facility is a great economic opportunity for Greater Sudbury,” said Bigger in a news release.

“This trip will provide our project team and key stakeholders with the ability to visit a facility using the same technology as what Noront is proposing, while gaining valuable insight from company representatives and local officials for our proposal to Noront. I am also pleased that Wahnapitae First Nations Chief, Ted Roque, is able to join me for this important mission and to have the support of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Chief Steven Miller.”

“Being engaged in this process from its initial stages of development showcases Greater Sudbury’s commitment to strengthening its relationships with First Nations,” said Chief Roque in a statement.

“Greater Sudbury is a global centre for mining, minerals processing, and mining supply and services,” said Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) board chair Wendy Watson.

“In meeting with representatives from Outokumpu and the city of Tornio, we are creating global relationships that will only benefit our community today and for many years to come.”