BY CRAIG GILBERT
for northern life
Michael Atkins wants Chris Hodgson for a neighbour.
The president of Laurentian Media Group, the parent company of Northern Life, says it?s time the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) got serious about Greater Sudbury as the mining capital of Canada and move its headquarters here. Hodgson is the president of the association, which held its annual general meeting in Sudbury last week.
The industry needs a place to be on the offensive, not the defensive, according to Atkins, and there is no better place for that than Sudbury.
?We need a Pier 21 for the mining community,? he said. ?It is time the OMA moved here. We need the OMA to champion a concentration of power and people where they will make a difference.?
It isn?t an outrageous idea, Atkins said. If you had told a group of oil executives in Toronto 20 years ago they should resign from their country club, bid farewell to their friends at the financing and accounting firms and move to Calgary, you would have been laughed out of the room.
Today, you would be laughed out of the room if you suggested they return to Bay Street.
Any industry worth its salt is synonymous with a city-state somewhere, he argued. Oil is inexorably linked with Houston, Texas, champagne with Champagne, France, information technology with Silicon Valley in California and the auto industry with Detroit, Michigan.
Sudbury is a globally recognized brand when it comes to mining, he said. That?s why Laurentian?s international mining magazine is called Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal.
Sudbury is caught in a cycle that sees the mining giants extracting wealth from the ground with basically no return. If it continues, Sudbury will be nowhere in the next five or 10 years, said Atkins.
?You need to help sustain what you built,? he said. ?You have a responsibility to be a part of the solution.?
Sudbury becoming a city-state for the mining industry is that solution, he argued.
?We have lots of what the mining industry needs,? he said, naming Laurentian University, the Ontario Geological Survey, the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) and a slew of other mining-related organizations based there.
There is a lot of concern about making as small an environmental footprint as possible, he said, but not enough hay made about the need to make an economically sustainable footprint.
?We have an obligation to honour our good fortune by not being lazy and using our heads. We have to use the resources to build a powerful, innovative and sustainable culture.?