Chromite deposits in Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire have long-term production potential that could make Canada a significant global producer, processor and supplier of one or more products that contain the critical metal chromium.
Metallurgical applications account for over 95% of global chromium usage, of which nearly 80% is used in the production of stainless steel. There is no substitute for chromium in the production of stainless steel, as it provides the resistance to corrosion. Chromium-based alloys are also used in gas turbines, aircraft engines and other high temperature applications. Global demand for chromium is driven by stainless steel production, which is forecast to grow at 2-3% per year (Roskill, Chromium Report). Despite the existence of major steel mills in North America, there is currently no chromite production in the region.
This presents an opportunity for Canada to develop its abundant chromite resources and potentially become a global supplier. However, chromite has not yet been mined in Canada and it is first necessary to equip the mining and mineral processing industry, the public, and regulators, with additional knowledge needed to develop these deposits in the most efficient and responsible way.
Furthermore, small investments in research that improve the quality of the chromite that is eventually shipped to customers could significantly increase its value and marketability and reduce the cost to supply markets in the U.S., Europe and Asia. From an environmental standpoint, these same investments can lead to reduced environmental impacts by decreasing the generation of waste and contaminants, and encouraging safe use of smelter byproducts.