Honourable Michael Gravelle – Minister Northern Development, Mines and Forestry – Speech at Ontario Mining Association Annual Meeting (Ring of Fire and Aboriginal Mining References), North Bay, Ontario – June 15, 2010

Honourable Michael Gravelle – Ontario Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry

 

For an extensive list of articles on this mineral discovery, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

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Thank you, Steve [Steve Wood, Vale / OMA Director] and good day, everyone.
 
I am very pleased to address members and guests of the Ontario Mining Association this afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be back in North Bay, and to enjoy your hospitality.
 
First let me give my heartiest congratulations to Chris Hodgson and his staff on OMA’s milestone 90th anniversary.

I’m very proud of the longstanding positive working relationship between the Ontario Mining Association and my ministry.

We share a passionate for working collaboratively to build on the strengths of mining for the good of all Ontarians.

That collaboration is also reflected in the OMA’s own positive relationships with First Nations and Métis communities, the supplies and services sector, and mining-sector stakeholders overall.

And my Ministry appreciates your valuable input to our government’s initiatives and programs.

The last decade has been record breaking for Ontario, with one of the best mining cycles in our history. By the same token, the industry has also had a couple of very tough years.

But there are signs of recovery, progress and opportunity:

  • Ontario opened two new gold mines last year, producing over $6 billion worth of minerals;
  • Black Fox Mine near Timmins started up in 2009 and employs 140. The gold mine is predicted to produce up to 120,000 ounces of gold annually;
  • The newly re-opened Holloway Mine north of Kirkland Lake, which also employs about 140, produced 18,700 ounces of gold in the fourth quarter of 2009;
  • Lakeshore’s Timmins Gold Project is due to commence commercial production in the fourth quarter of 2010, and expects to employ 250. The mine is expected to produce 50,000 ounces of gold this year alone; and
  • The proposed Northgate Young Davidson Project has a projected annual production averaging 180,000 ounces of gold over an estimated 15-year life cycle.

Of course Ontario’s resource sector now also includes diamonds — the whole pipeline, from extraction to cutting and polishing, to the retail market.

Our rich mineral endowment, business climate and ongoing efforts to advance the province’s standing in mineral development all contribute to Ontario’s status as a preferred destination for major mining investment.

Mining has and will continue to contribute significantly toward improving Ontario’s economy and society.

Industry is one very important focus of the Open Ontario Plan.

Our Tax Plan for jobs and growth is the most significant tax reform in a generation, designed to create employment and open up the province to new investment and growth opportunities.

The Harmonized sales Tax will bring Ontario in line with more than 140 countries that have a similar value-added tax system.

Once the HST is fully implemented, the manufacturing sector will benefit from about $510 million in sales tax relief annually. Mining, utilities and oil and gas sectors will receive $315 million in tax relief per year.

Ontario’s marginal effective tax rate on new business investment will be cut in half, falling from 32.8 per cent in 2009 to 16.2 per cent by 2018.

The government is also investing $45 million for a new training program to help Aboriginal peoples and northerners participate in and benefit from emerging economic development opportunities.

A three-year Northern Industrial Energy Rebate Program would reduce industrial electricity prices by almost 25 per cent, helping qualifying large northern facilities achieve efficiencies and sustainability, and retain and create jobs.

Open Ontario demonstrates our government’s support for these initiatives with investments that will ultimately help build the province’s economy as a whole. The future of mining in Ontario is significantly brighter.

Now to the topic of the day.

As signalled through our government’s throne speech and it’s 2010 Budget, development in the Ring of Fire is a key priority.

North America’s first potentially world-class chromite deposit discovery continues to fuel an incredible exploration boom. The Ring of Fire is lauded as one of the most promising development opportunities in Ontario in more than a century.

It is certainly one of the most significant developments in Canadian mining industry over the last few decades.

More than 30 companies hold about 31,000 claim units in the region. This arcuate area of claim staking covers about 5,000 square kilometers and is the focus of exploration for chromite, nickel, copper, platinum, palladium and diamonds.

Even at this early stage, positive drill results coupled with the escalating interest in chromite production have raised the development potential and profile of the region.

Some companies are suggesting that an ambitious development schedule that could see a mine brought into production within about five years.

The Ring of Fire would undoubtedly become a major economic force for nearby communities.

It would also be significant for the Far North of Ontario, supporting regional and community infrastructure development, as well as value-added manufacturing and related mining sector supply and services companies across the province.

There is tremendous opportunity for jobs and growth, and for Aboriginal Peoples in particular to become trained to work in good-paying mining jobs, and to be involved in the industry.

Investment on this scale would be a significant regional economic development driver for Northern Ontario, as well as the financial services sector in Toronto.

A new Ring of Fire Coordinator at my Ministry will work with all parties to ensure this project moves ahead in a timely and appropriate way, ensuring a collective effort is made advancing responsible economic development in the McFaulds Lake area.

Achieving economic development will require ongoing collaboration and developing innovative partnerships to foster growth and success.

One of our most ambitious undertakings is modernization of the Mining Act to help build a strong and stable future for the industry in the face of a new world economy.

To remain at the forefront in a highly competitive global market place, it’s imperative to embrace change.

Moving forward modernizing the Act will align it with 21st century values.

It is to the credit of everyone who participated in consultations, who gave voice to issues and concerns, that we developed Bill 173 – legislation that has been called “historic” and “groundbreaking”.

I would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of a key group — the Minister’s Mining Act Advisory Committee, which represents a broad cross-section of interests and perspectives ranging from industry associations and Aboriginal representatives, to environmental non-governmental organizations.

This committee has been working diligently to provide support to my Ministry. The group’s expertise and efforts have been critical to the success of the MAM process, and it will continue to be an important partner as we forge ahead with Mining Act Modernization.

Amendments to the Mining Act will solidify a foundation of consultation appropriate with the graduated impact of exploration and activity with Aboriginal communities throughout the mining sequence.

A synergy will develop for a business environment conducive to sustainable mineral development and the engagement of Aboriginal Peoples.

Unprecedented new legislation will provide greater clarity and certainty to the industry by establishing a clear framework for responsible management and development of our mineral resources, while maintaining fair and competitive access to mineral tenure in Ontario.

Through to the end of July, our Ministry staff will continue to conduct broad-based consultations with industry stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, First Nations and Métis on the development of regulations and policies to govern Mining Act amendments.

Following the conclusion of these initial consultation sessions, our Ministry plans to host a series of focused multi-stakeholder workshops on key issues throughout the fall.

Consultation is of paramount importance.

Let me also reiterate that Ontario, through MAM, is a leading jurisdiction in many ways, by:

  • recognizing Aboriginal and treaty rights within the Act;
  • incorporating Aboriginal consultation into mining legislation and regulations; and
  • building a dispute resolution process for Aboriginal-related issues in mining. 

It is so important to strengthen and build new relationships with Aboriginal Peoples, as well as to identify opportunities for capacity building, and to support their direct participation in the minerals sector.

Change and firsts are benefiting Ontario’s First Nations communities, for example:

  • Wahgoshig First Nation will hire a mining coordinator who will not only build relationships with industry partners, but help the community enhance mining-related knowledge and build job opportunities; and
  • Matachewan First Nation recently graduated five mining program students, preparing them for employment at the Young Davidson gold mine – and hiring the mine’s first female production miner.

It’s really all about working together and moving forward with confidence and clarity of purpose.

I would be remiss not to mention the mining support cluster, which is of immense value to the mining industry and to Ontario as a whole.

At this time, I’d like to acknowledge the good work of the Ontario North Economic Development Corporation for their recent Northern Ontario Mining Supply and Services Study.

My ministry is proud to have been involved in and funded this project, with support from ONE DC’s five northern cities, along with SAMSAA and FedNor. Ontario has much to offer potential investors, and initiatives such as this help identify untapped economic growth potential.

I’ll conclude by reiterating that the global economic shift presents tremendous opportunities for the diverse communities and economies of Ontario.

Our government and my ministry remain committed to developing programs and policies that foster a vibrant, competitive business climate of accessibility, collaboration and investment across the province.

The OMA has coined the mining industry a “productivity powerhouse”. I couldn’t agree more.

Mining is high-tech, solutions-driven and focused on innovation. Working together to achieve our common goals is an important step on the journey toward a more prosperous Ontario — one that advances the industry for balanced progress.

Thank you for your ongoing encouragement of our initiatives. As Chair Flumerfelt once said, “With Ontario’s geological potential and the drive of industry, mining will be around for a long, long time.”

Thank you for your kind hospitality.

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