Noront Resources announces late Friday afternoon that it has narrowed the choices for the new location of a proposed Ring of Fire smelter down to two.

All four municipalities on the shortlist are located in Northern Ontario, but Thunder Bay and Sudbury have been eliminated.

The choices to host a new ferrochrome production facility will now be between Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins.

Submissions were evaluated based on a comprehensive set of criteria determined by Noront and engineering firm Hatch.  Critical factors included environmental and site suitability, capital and operating costs, as well as an assessment of community acceptance for hosting a facility.

Alan Coutts is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Noront.

“The quality of the submissions was outstanding and demonstrated a significant effort by each of the communities involved. They each provided a compelling case that illustrated the merits of their location as a host for the ferrochrome production facility.” said Coutts.

Although the Sudbury proposal had the lowest operating cost, the capital costs for the site preparation and infrastructure were significant.  The community also faced strong opposition to the project.

Alternately, Thunder Bay had strong community support, including Fort William First Nation, the environment acceptability was hindered due to the presence of a body of water that cut across the proposed site and the power infrastructure would be costly.

The final site selection process is now underway and includes substantial negotiations with the owners of the remaining two sites on commercial use terms.

Noront expects to complete the final stage by the end of the year.

Christian Provenzano is the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie.

“I think this is a real positive so I want the community to feel good about it. I think it proves that the City and the EDC team together really work well together and put together a compelling submission. And I also think it proves we're a good place to do business. So look this is a great step in the process but there's a lot more work to be done here." said Provenzano.

As one can imagine, Timmins city officials are also very excited to have made the short list.

"We remain convinced Timmins is the best site in this process and very proud of the team whom has been part of the process. This is an incredible opportunity for the City of Timmins and we are optimistic about the coming months." said Timmins Mayor Steve Black.

As for the unsuccessful contenders, Mayor Brian Bigger and his Sudbury team travelled to Finland last winter to examine a ferrochrome smelter there as they prepared the local bid.

Coniston was the preferred site, but there were local objections.

Mayor Bigger says he's disappointed.

“Disappointment for sure, however, we’ve learned a lot from the proposal that we put forward and there were a number of strong factors and strong elements that we knew we were strong with on this bid proposal. And so it is reassuring to know that Sudbury is able to deliver very competitive operating costs and some of the lowest taxes, industrial taxes, for the opportunity and you know it came down to capital investments from their prospective and the way that they wanted to develop the property” said Bigger.