Last month, we celebrated Mining Week in Greater Sudbury, an annual event designed to promote the importance of the mining and processing industry to the community at large. This event is useful and appropriate but we need to remind ourselves every week about the role that mining and processing plays in our local economy and the role that our city plays in this vital global industry.
The people of this community can take great pride in the successes of the economic diversification strategies that were launched a quarter century ago. The dreams of the 1970s and 1980s are now reality and we are a significant government services centre, an award-winning tourism destination, a centre for education and health, and the leading service and retail centre in Northern Ontario.
At the same time, however, our mining, processing and mining supply and services sectors are driving the city’s economy to new heights and creating significant wealth for our province and for Canada as a whole. As a city, it is critical that we understand and support this vital industry and that we develop strategies to ensure that we remain competitive on a global basis, well into the future.
Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to meet with many of our local mining companies and mining suppliers. I travelled to Santiago, Chile to support local suppliers who have the innovative products, knowledge and skills to compete for customers and joint venture partners in South America and around the world. I also met with Canadian trade officials and representatives of Natural Resources Canada to discuss opportunities for Canadian companies and the need for a mining industry strategy.
I travelled to Brazil to meet with the top executives at Vale to explain Greater Sudbury’s historical relationship with Inco and our commitment to the industry. I wanted also to understand where Greater Sudbury fits into Vale’s global operations and learn about their company culture. In my meetings and tours of the company operations, I saw clearly that Vale Inco’s Sudbury operations are a vital part of Vale’s long term plans and I was impressed with their commitment to the individual workers and to the communities in which they operate.
Our city is recognized around the world as a centre of mining innovation and expertise. Today, more than 300 small and medium sized businesses employ over 10,000 skilled workers in the mining supply and services sector. Continued exploration is leading to new discoveries and continued strong investment in mineral production and processing. Mining giants like Vale Inco and Xstrata Nickel now share the basin with strong new companies like FNX, Ursa Major and First Nickel.
As we look to the future, we know that we will have to work hard to maintain a competitive edge in both mineral production and processing. As a municipality, we will need to help our resident companies to attract the best and brightest workers, and we will need to improve our infrastructure to meet the needs of processing companies as well as our citizens.
Our city can’t do this alone. Now, more than ever, we need the Federal government to understand the importance of the mining and processing industry to Northern Ontario and to Canada; the government needs to establish a mining strategy for this country and they need to support initiatives like CEMI (the Centre of Excellence for Mining Innovation) so our city and its leading industry can continue to innovate for the future.
The Ontario government must also play a role. The Greater Sudbury Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues issued a landmark report earlier this year which laid out a compelling argument for a better deal for this city in terms of resource revenue sharing. We need them to sit down with us and agree to help us deliver the services that our citizens need and the services that will enable our industries to thrive well into the future.
John Lill, President and CEO of FNX Ltd. and Honorary Chair of Sudbury Mining Week 2008, calculated recently that, at today’s prices, the value of ores extracted and known reserves in the Sudbury Basin totals more than one trillion dollars. I believe that this is a resource that is worth celebrating, that is worth sustaining and that is worth sharing.
Mining Tax Report: A Refined Argument-Report of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues