The Sudbury Basin is arguably the most valuable geologic structure in the world. For more than one hundred years, dozens of mines have operated around the rim of this ancient meteor crater, extracting millions of pounds of nickel, copper and cobalt as well as million of ounces of gold, platinum and palladium.
The sales of these metals have realized tens of billions of dollars in profit for mining companies and billions of dollars in taxes for the Federal and Provincial Governments. The mining activities in the Sudbury Basin have in large measure driven the development of the progressive urban center that is the City of Greater Sudbury.
Local municipal government in the Sudbury area has gradually grown to match the geographic extent of the basin. As dictated by the Ontario government in 1973 and again in 2001, the disparate assembly of communities that had developed around the mine sites has been consolidated into Ontario’s largest municipality, covering a staggering 3,200 square kilometers. The resulting City of Greater Sudbury has developed into a strong regional centre and Northern Ontario’s most populous city. It is a regional health hub, an important Ontario post-secondary education center with colleges in both official languages and is the home of a research university. The City is also a base for a dynamic mines supply and
services sector as well as a leading centre for mining research and development.
Companies that engage in mining activity in the Sudbury Basin have access to one of the richest mineral deposits on earth and a highly skilled workforce. They benefit from a stable political environment and operate in an urban community with high standards of municipal services and infrastructure and a great quality of life. All of these factors have contributed to making Greater Sudbury the world’s premier mining site, and as a result, home to some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated mining complexes.
In recent years, increased demand for commodities such as nickel and copper has resulted in a boom in the mining sector that has translated into great prosperity for the companies, the community and has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the treasuries of the Federal and
Provincial Governments. Unfortunately, the Municipality does not benefit directly from this prosperity.
The City of Greater Sudbury brought together leaders from the community to create the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues. This report has been designed to provide the arguments as to why the Council of the City of Greater Sudbury should invite the Province of Ontario to enter into negotiations with the City to establish a resource revenue-sharing agreement. The report also provides other recommendations developed by the Panel. The summary of each chapter encapsulates the arguments for a resource revenue-sharing agreement.
Municipalities are entities of the Province and as such look to the Province for funding. In turn the Province petitions the Federal Government to provide additional funding to the Province. Although this report looks to the Province to address its distribution of natural resource wealth, it is important for Council to take every opportunity to promote and seek funding from the Federal Government who also benefit significantly from the natural resource wealth generated in the Sudbury Basin.
The last section of the Executive Summary provides a brief description of secondary recommendations developed by the Panel.
In order to address the broader, more endemic problems with which this City must contend, the Panel has developed one primary recommendation:
That the council of the City of Greater Sudbury invite the
Province of Ontario to enter into negotiations with the
city to establish a resource revenue-sharing framework
that will ensure a predictable and sustainable revenue
stream for the municipality.
And further that council circulates this report and
consults with other northern resource communities.
The arguments to support this recommendation are summarized below, with a more comprehensive and substantive examination provided in the pages that follow.
Other resource rich provinces in Canada have been initiating new policies and resource sharing arrangements with the companies that extract the natural resources in their jurisdictions. It is not unreasonable for these provinces to believe they should receive a share of the wealth generated by their natural resources.
Given this belief, it is not surprising that the municipalities who house the workers, support the service providers and contractors, provide the infrastructure that facilitates the development of these resources and provide high quality urban community standards that attract skilled workers, should also seek an additional share of the wealth generated from the mining and processing industry within their own territory.
The entire report can be found at: A Refined Argument: Report of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues