Noront officials grilled on proposed Soo smelter
Thursday night in Sault Ste. Marie, residents had an opportunity to speak with Noront Resources officials regarding the ferrochrome smelter that is expected to be built in the city over the next decade as part of the Ring of Fire project.
For five hours, the Noront team was grilled by the public with concerns regarding the proposed smelter.
CTV News spoke with Noront President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Coutts at the event. Coutts said his team was asked a lot of questions.
"Some that we can answer and some that we can’t answer yet. We’re taking notes, we're trying to engage. We’re trying to provide the information that we can,"
The information was presented in an open house format in a hotel boardroom with everyone free to move around. It is a set up many residents say just did not work.
Amie Woods is a Sault resident that is against having the smelter in her community.
"The format is very fragmented. It makes it hard to really have a flow of information coming from the company to really process and analyze," said Woods.
Nora Buhlmann is a concerned citizen.
"It’s a 'Mickey Mouse' deal. It’s too noisy in there.There’s lots of screens around, people are in the way. It’s takes time to read those screens," said Buhlmann.
Noront says it has hosted many public forums and finds the open house format is the best way.
After hours of speaking with concerned citizens, one topic stood out: the environmental study and how transparent it will be.
"It has to get past two levels of regulation: a provincial review and a federal review. So, both of those environment assessments will take place," said Coutts.
Roy Kreutzberger is another resident concerned about the smelter's impact on the city.
"I don’t know if it’s necessarily eased any of my concerns, but to at least hear from the 'horse's mouth' is really important for me," said Kreutzberger.
After attending the event, Woods still has doubt.
"I believe that the company representatives believe what they are saying. I am not convinced that I agree with their risk assessments," said Woods.
While the open house took place, a small protest of six people was going on outside the hotel.
Noront says Thursday is the first of many public consultation sessions to be held in the city, but next on the agenda, the company wants to meet with the new counsel for the Garden River First Nation.