Noront Resources has narrowed its search for a Northern Ontario host community for a future $1-billion ferrochrome smelter to Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins.
Thunder Bay and Sudbury have been removed from consideration for a ferrochrome production facility, the company announced late on the afternoon of July 13.
The four Northern Ontario cities submitted their bids early last February.
Noront employed Hatch Engineering to help them with the evaluation process based on environmental and site suitability, capital costs, operating costs and an assessment of community acceptance of hosting the facility.
"The quality of the submissions was outstanding and demonstrated a significant effort by each of the communities involved," said Noront president-CEO Alan Coutts in a company news release.
"They each provided a compelling case that illustrated the merits of their location as a host for the ferrochrome production facility."
The Toronto junior miner, which was supposed to announce a production location this summer, is looking toward the end of this year before making an announcement.
The company said the Sudbury proposal --which involved a former Inco smelter site in the suburb of Coniston--had the lowest operating cost but it would involve significant capital costs to prepare the site with earthworks and the re-establishment of critical infrastructure.
Noront said it also faced "strong opposition from the local community."
Thunder Bay's bid, the company said, had strong community backing, with support coming from Fort William First Nation.
McKellar Island was the site that was featured, one of two large islands in the delta of the Kaministiquia River, flowing into Lake Superior.
However the presence of a water body transecting the property reduced the environmental acceptability of the site and costly power infrastructure needs created a further issue.
The company said the last phase of the selection process now begins which includes negotiating terms with the owners of the two favoured sites.
The Sault is promoting a heavy industrial 400-acre brownfield site, located west of Essar Steel Algoma, which has Great Lakes port access.
Timmins has been touting the former Kidd Metallurgical Site, the last smelter permitted in 1980, to Noront.
The smelter and refinery were closed by Xstrata Copper in 2010 but the property is being used by Glencore as a concentrator for the nearby Kidd Creek base metal mine.
The site will be vacated when the mine closes in...