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Cliffs halts chromite project assessment

Keywords: Tags  Cliffs Natural Resources, William Boor, environmental assessment, chromite, ferrochrome, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. is temporarily suspending environmental assessment work on its chromite project in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire region, the company said June 12.

"While most aspects of the chromite project have advanced according to plan, temporarily suspending the environmental assessment work acknowledges that certain critical elements of the project’s future are not solely within our control and require the active support and participation by other interested parties, such as government agencies and impacted First Nation communities," William Boor, senior vice president of global ferroalloys, said in a statement.

Boor told AMM in April that the company was unsure of the project’s permitting timeline following a change in local government (, April 29).

The Cleveland-based company cited delayed approval in the assessment process, a judicial challenge by a "number" of First Nations, unresolved land rights issues and unfinished agreements with the Ontario government as reasons for the suspension.

"In a practical sense, we’ve taken the (assessment) and other project work as far as possible without resolution of these issues," Boor said. However, the company will continue to engage with the government and First Nations.

The company does not know when the issues might be resolved, a spokeswoman said.

In addition to completing the assessment process, Cliffs needs to negotiate agreements with affected First Nation communities, address the lack of infrastructure in the Ring of Fire region and complete its commercial and technical feasibility studies before it can advance the project, which is expected to produce 1.1 million tonnes of chrome ore and 560,000 tonnes of high-carbon ferrochrome per year once operational.

"We remain excited about this project and its potential for Cliffs and northern Ontario," Boor said.

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