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Sault politicians scratching their heads over Toronto soirée on Ring of Fire

Mayor Christian Provenzano and Sault MPP Ross Romano insist the chromite smelter belongs in Northern Ontario, not Michigan
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Ontario Sault politicians are scratching their heads over a meeting planned next month in Toronto to announce a potential ferrochrome processing plant in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

At the Civic Centre tonight, a half-dozen city councillors told SooToday they had absolutely no knowledge of the Apr. 5 gathering at the swank Design Exchange museum, located in Toronto's original stock exchange building at 234 Bay St.

"The Ring of Fire Limited Partnership cordially invites you to join Doug Ford, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party; with the Honourable Maxime Bernier opposition critic for innovation, science and economic development; and Jason Gauthier of the Missinabie Cree First Nation to review the virtues of making ferrochrome in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan for a new North American stainless steel joint-venture with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario," said the invitation.

It was posted on by KWG Resources Inc., operator of the Black Horse joint chromium venture and a significant player in the massive Ring of Fire initiative in the mineral-rich James Bay Lowlands.

If KWG is indeed planning some kind of steel partnership with the Ontario Sault, it appears the firm hasn't talked to many stakeholders on this side of the river.

In fact, Mayor Christian Provenzano says he's unaware of anyone being approached at the City of Sault Ste. Marie, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. or "as far as we can tell, any of our partners in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan."

"It would certainly be my expectation that the government of the Province of Ontario, and all political leaders in the Province of Ontario, the premier and anybody who's aspiring to be the premier, would support development in Ontario as opposed to development in Michigan," Provenzano told SooToday.

Provanzano said he has a good relationship with NorOnt Resources Ltd, which is currently reviewing proposals for a Ring-of-Fire-related ferrochrome processing plant in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins.

"NorOnt is looking to develop its project in Northern Ontario and we certainly think it should be developed in Northern Ontario," the mayor said.

Sault MPP Ross Romano said he confirmed today with the office of his party leader Doug Ford that an invitation was accepted to the Toronto KWG event, but that shouldn't be construed as support.

Romano tells SooToday that his view, and that of Doug Ford and the Ontario PC party, is that "we do not by any means support the idea of a ferrochrome processing plant being built anywhere other than in northern Ontario."

KWG is believed to be interested in partnering with the United States to take advantage of President Donald Trump's 'America First' approach to international trade.


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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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