CLEVELAND, May 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) (Paris: CLF) announced Wednesday, May 9th, that the Company’s Board of Directors approved advancing its proposed chromite project, located in the Ring of Fire area of Northern Ontario, Canada, from pre-feasibility to the feasibility study phase. The Company’s feasibility study will build further on the technical and economic evaluations and a clearly defined project description will enable environmental assessment to move forward.
Cliffs stated that its discussions with the Government of Ontario have resulted in an agreement in principle for key elements of its chromite project, including development of provincial infrastructure. The Company is satisfied and confident in naming Ontario as the future location for its intended ferrochrome processing facility. Both parties will continue to work toward a definitive agreement.
Cliffs also said that, after a lengthy and careful evaluation process, which included several alternative locations, it selected Sudbury, Ontario as its future ferrochrome processing facility site. This facility will be designed to process the chromite ore mined and concentrated in the region. Sudbury was selected due to various economic and technical factors that would best support the viability and success of the overall project, including transportation logistics, labor, long mining tradition, community support and access to electrical power.
Bill Boor, senior vice president – global ferroalloys for Cliffs, said, “Today’s decision is a major milestone in our overall plan and adds more clarity to the project. Now, we are able to commit to a project definition, moving us closer to making the chromite project reality. By following a very rigorous and disciplined pre-feasibility approach, we are confident that the viability of the project is enhanced, which is critical to creating stable jobs and bringing other social and economic benefits to the region.”
Before Cliffs can make a final decision on the project in its entirety, the Company must receive provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals, negotiate mutually acceptable agreements with affected First Nations communities, work with governments to address the lack of infrastructure in the Ring of Fire and complete its commercial and technical feasibility studies.
“We will continue our work to meet all of the requirements of the environmental assessment process as well as the expectations of the First Nations and local communities, especially with regards to the social, environmental, and economic performance of this project should it proceed,” said Boor.
Boor added, “We are very excited about the potential impact of this project for all of Northern Ontario. Assuming it goes ahead, our project has sufficient scale to justify infrastructure investments with the potential to connect remote communities with more populous municipalities, opening up the Ring of Fire to other responsible mining investments.”
As previously disclosed, Cliffs indicated that, although it believes the chromite deposits it controls are world-class, a number of additional studies, including feasibility, and other project milestones need to be completed before the Company begins allocating a significant portion of capital to the project’s construction. Based on the completion of these studies, Cliffs anticipates a majority of the project’s anticipated capital requirements would be made in 2014 and 2015, with an early works program initiated prior to 2014 to maintain project execution timeline.