The province's mining industry was praised as one of Ontario's “economic pillars” by the acting assistant deputy minister for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines during the annual Sudbury Mining Week luncheon May 4.
“I think the industry will play a significant role as the government works to address the province's fiscal and economic challenges,” Cindy Blancher-Smith said.
The mining industry employs about 27,000 people in the province directly, and another 50,000 indirectly, Blancher-Smith said. In Sudbury, Canada's “de facto centre of mining excellence,” the value of mineral production was $4.4 billion in 2011.
Mining has taken place here for well over a century, and “many experts feel we'll still be mining in Sudbury for another century,” she said.
Blancher-Smith also praised the mining supply and services sector, which employs more than 25,000 people in northern Ontario alone.
There are more than 500 of these types of businesses in the north, producing supplies and services worth more than $5.6 billion annually.
“Sudbury has an established reputation for innovation and excellence in all areas of mining exploration, mine development and rehabilitation,” Blancher-Smith said.
“Quite a few organizations use the slogan 'innovation is in our DNA.' But this is especially fitting for our mining supply and services sector. Local companies are now parlaying their regional and national success onto the global stage.”
She said her ministry is assisting these companies with taking on world markets through the mining supply and services export assistance program, which offers training, export funding and international trade missions.
Research done by the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) and the city's large mining companies are also increasing the city's reputation for mining solutions, she said.
The province, and northern Ontario in particular, is also currently a hotbed of exploration activity, Blancher-Smith said.
“For the first time, there are more than 600 active mineral exploration projects across the province,” she said.
“Another record was established in 2011, when mineral exploration exceeded $1 billion. Over the last 10 years, more new mines have opened here than anywhere else in Canada. That tells us that investing in exploration and development does pay off.”
With the prospect of developments like the Ring of Fire, the province “can certainly look forward to more new mines opening in the near future.”
The province's goal is to help industry open eight new mines over the next 10 years, Blancher-Smith said.
“If commodity prices hold, with all of the exploration activity that I just mentioned, we believe that goal is achievable.”
She said the province is helping industry develop new mines through introducing corporate income tax reforms “which makes Ontario more competitive,” putting geoscience information on the Internet and amending the mining act.
These legislative changes will also benefit Aboriginal communities impacted by mining activities, she said.
“The mining act has been rewritten to a large extent,” Blanchard-Smith said. “It now requires Aboriginal consultation at various phases throughout the mining act.”
Training the next generation of miners, the main focus of Sudbury Mining Week, is also critically important, she said.
“The future of mining here in Ontario will depend on attracting the brightest and best young minds,” Blancher-Smith said. “That's why mining week's emphasis on the young is so important, and should be strongly supported.”
Dick DeStefano, honourary chair of Sudbury Mining Week, said that next year the week will be called “Sudbury Mining and Technology Week” to reflect the mining technology produced in the city.
“This is a mining centre of excellence, and we need to portray that at a national and international level,” he said. “We need to demonstrate that to our children, high school students and public at large.”
Posted by Laurel Myers