- “potentially world class deposit.”
- a quarter of the world’s chromite, the main ingredient in stainless steel
- a 30-year life of the mining operation
- a project that currently doesn’t even have a road to the mine site (KWG has that covered too)


Cliffs has tough 2012; eyes big chromite deposit


CLEVELAND — Cliffs Resources, the world’s largest iron ore producer in the world, had a tough 2012, recording a net financial loss.

But the company’s executive vice president of legal, government affairs and sustainability and president of Cliffs China, said during a presentation made to representatives of local businesses, media and other groups at the Coates Hotel in Virginia last week that Cliffs is “bullish” on 2013 and is also investing in some long-term projects.

One of those ventures for the 166-year-old company reaches up to near McFaulds Lake in northern Ontario, Canada, — a chromite “potentially world class deposit.”

It is located in an area referred to as the “Ring of Fire,” which is speculated to contain about a quarter of the world’s chromite, the main ingredient in stainless steel.

The project is scheduled to begin production in 2016. It will create 850 to 1,250 jobs over a 30-year life of the mining operation.

Cliffs officials plan to ship nearly half of the raw ore mined in northern Ontario to China, while the rest will be shipped to a proposed smelter in Sudbury, according to a recent update for investors by the company.

But that’s not sitting well with some Ontario government officials who are sounding the same message heard for about a century on the Iron Range — they want value added to the resource in the province rather than having it all shipped elsewhere.

Canada’s New Democratic Party Member of Provincial Parliament Gilles Bisson said Ontario should develop its own stainless steel industry, instead of sending the raw ingredients overseas, according to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. story.

“Rather than having jobs at the mine and maybe 300 jobs at a ferrochrome facility (in Sudbury), we could end up having tens of thousands of jobs in the stainless steel industry,” Bisson said.

That would require a change in Canada’s Mining Act to allow Ontario to force companies to process minerals within the province.

Government turned its attention to the Ring of Fire last week, appointing Treasury Board President Tony Clement to oversee the project. “I don’t believe this is an opportunity we can afford to let pass us by,” Clement said during a speech in Thunder Bay. “The Ring of Fire is no ordinary mine development. It is a unique platform from which to materially improve the quality of life for thousands.”

A majority of Canada’s stainless steel manufacturers gradually shut down 20 years ago due to the steel industry recession, but the CBC story quotes Peter Warrian, an author and expert from the Munk School of Global Affairs, as saying there will be growing demand in North America in the longer term.

However, he also said turning raw ore into stainless steel in Ontario wouldn’t be easy. “You can’t just feed chromite into Stelco or Dofasco,” Warrian said. Heavy investment would be needed for a project that currently doesn’t even have a road to the mine site.

However, Ontario’s ruling Liberals aren’t as concerned about the chromite bound for China, according to the story. Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle said having more than half the ore processed in Ontario, is better than none.

“What we’re going to see is a value-added opportunity in the province of Ontario that was never there before,” Gravelle said.