Cliffs Chromite Project

Cliffs Chromite Project – Ferrochrome Production Facility

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., through its affiliates (Cliffs), is planning to develop the Black Thor chromite deposit in the McFaulds Lake area in Northern Ontario – the Far North.

Currently this proposal is going through a Federal and Provincial Environmental Assessment Process.  If you are a stakeholder, or have concerns, you may register to receive all updates and notices by contacting Cliffs by email at, or by Telephone at 1-855-353-4766 to register as a stakeholder.  For a more detailed Project Description – click here.

Cliffs website indicates they are currently in the early planning stages for this Project and are undergoing a coordinated Environmental Assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.   Cliffs announced that they have chosen the Caperol site for the smelter on May 10th, 2012 – check out the CBC interview with Cliff’s VP, Bill Bloor.

Black Thor is the largest known deposit of chromite ore in North America but the value of this chromite becomes evident only once the ore is mined, processed and refined to ferrochrome, a product sold to producers of stainless steel. Development of this deposit will require a major investment of money and resources by Cliffs, including the significant cost of on-going feasibility and environmental studies. Currently a pre-feasibility study is underway that will help to more accurately determine the Project details and investment required to bring the chromite to market. Their schedule is to begin production in 2015.

The final step in the Project is the refining of the concentrate to ferrochrome metal in enclosed electric arc furnaces. The granulated ferrochrome metal will be sold for use in stainless steel manufacturing in North America and worldwide. At full capacity, the Ferrochrome Production Facility is expected to produce between 1,250 and 1,750 tonnes of ferrochrome per day.

Refining the concentrate will occur at the Ferrochrome Production Facility located for the Base Case on privately owned lands near Capreol within a rural area of the City of Greater Sudbury. The size of the site will be approximately 1.5 km by 1 km. The site is currently designated as “Rural”,
allowing a variety of land uses, especially those that provide rural economic benefits that are balanced with protection of the natural environment and the agricultural resource base.

The refining process consists of the following:

  • Raw material receiving and storage, including the concentrate, reductant, and flux materials required for refining. These “feedstock”materials will be transported to the site by rail and stored in stockpiles.
  • Ferrochrome production in enclosed electric arc furnaces occurs at a high temperature (~1,700 degrees C) to separate and produce a molten ferrochrome metal product or “matte”. The separation process uses fluxing agents such as quartzite. The resulting waste material is called “slag”. (The management of this slag is discussed on page 21)
  • Product handling, storage and loading is the final activity in the production of ferrochrome. Molten ferrochrome matte from the furnaces will be cooled and prepared for final shipping by rail to customers. Storage capacity will be provided at the site for up to four months production.


The Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Program is a 3 year study to characterize the lower Vermilion River to identify all negative inputs and outputs affecting water quality, and to ultimately recommend a course of action to protect and restore water quality on the Vermilion River system.