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Cliffs’ chromite project study remains delayed: Carrabba

Keywords: Tags  Cliffs Natural Resources, Black Thor, ferrochrome, Joseph Carrabba, chromite, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. has yet to resume discussions with the government of Ontario over the funding of infrastructure for its proposed Black Thor chromite project, the company said April 25.

The Cleveland-based company has nearly completed its internal evaluations regarding the project, but it can not complete a feasibility study until it restarts negotiations with the provincial government, chairman, chief executive and president Joseph Carrabba said on an April 25 conference call.

“We will not approve any significant investment capital or major construction activity until key elements supporting economic viability are resolved,” he said. “This is an extraordinary project opportunity that (will) require the support of First Nations, government and others to advance.”

The company said that it has already invested $3 million in various programs to help build positive relationships with First Nation communities, with $60 million having been allocated over 2013 for the completion of a Black Thor feasibility study.

Carrabba again said the delay is most likely due to the recent change in the provincial government, with Cliffs having signed a term sheet agreement with the previous administration in May 2012. “In no way (have we) seen at this point in time a backing away from the term sheet,” Carrabba said. “It’s getting the definitive agreements in place with the new group of cabinet ministers. We’ve got a lag right now while the government gets reorganized, but they seem to still be very positive on this project, and it’s not a restart.”

The government of Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle told AMM that while the government is in a transition period it is committed to developing the region. “This is a complex undertaking and we want to make sure we get it right. Ontario is committed to seeing mineral development in the Ring of Fire.” Gravelle said in an emailed statement.

The company does not have a projected start-up date for the project, having twice revised its initial forecast of 2015 (, Oct. 26). The mine is expected to produce about 1.1 million tonnes of chrome ore and 560,000 tonnes of high-carbon ferrochrome annually.

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