After more than five hours of consultations with sometimes-hostile Saultites, Noront Resources Ltd. says it still prefers Sault Ste, Marie as the future site of its billion-dollar ferrochrome facility.
Hundreds of locals showed up at the company's first open house Wednesday for its proposed ferrochrome processing facility.
Last week, Timmins Mayor George Pirie predicted his city will end up as home to the controversial smelter.
"We're flattered that the mayor of Timmins is still interested in our business," Alan Coutts, Noront's president and chief executive officer, said near the end of the consultation at the Delta Hotels Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront.
"But we're committed to Sault Ste. Marie, and we want to do this project here," Coutts told SooToday.
"We want community support for it, too. We're not going to do a project where we don't have community support. That's what we're trying to foster over the next year of work with the community."
"We were pleasantly surprised by the turnout," Coutts said.
"We must have had hundreds though the open house, which is exactly what we're looking for. We're trying to engage as much as we can. It's our first public engagement. We want to see and hear from the community."
"There's a lot of questions. Some we can answer now. Some we need to do more work to answer. Some we never anticipated. But that's all part of the process."
"What we're saying to the people here is: give us a bit of time to provide information, to engage with the community, so that when they're making up their minds about this plant, they're making it from an informed point of view. It's not just maybe something they heard or an emotional reaction."
"It's not unusual, because people feel passionate about a number of issues. Environment and human health are a couple of them that they are really passionate about."
"Did we expect to have some engagements around that? Absolutely, but it's got to happen. This is part of a process. We have to engage. We can't just hide behind walls or run away to Toronto. We need to engage with the people and answer the questions to the best we can," Coutts said.