AT THE CUTTING EDGE: ‘REPUBLIC OF MINING’ BLOGS ABOUT THE NORTH – by Graham Murray (Inside Queen’s Park – January 4, 2012)

Inside Queen’s Park is an insider newsletter which offers widely respected analysis of, and insight into, the inner workings of Ontario government and politics.  It is published by G.P. Murray Research Limited which provides Ontario Government relations and information services.

As a devout generalist, ready to splash around in puddles that are a mile wide provided they are not more than an inch deep, IQP defers to and relies upon the many specialists who drill deeply in one field or even more. One such is Stan Sudol, a talented writer and energetic researcher whose long experience of all things mineral is evident to those who keep up with his RepublicOfMining.Com web-site and blog postings.

A self-professed Sudbury Inco-brat – he worked for the company’s Clarabell Mill in 1976-77 and underground at the Frood-Stobie mine in 1980 – he now calls Toronto home but still keeps a close eye on northern Ontario and mining issues. He also worked at various Queen’s Park ministries in the late nineties and early part of this decade as a communications consultant.

 The blog is a combination of Sudol’s columns, industry news releases, speeches, opinion pieces and an aggregator of mainstream media mining news. Past Northern Development & Mines minister Mike Gravelle had many of his speeches posted on the blog.

Sudol says, “In contrast to the avalanche of anti-mining information on the internet and in the media, RepublicOfMining.com tries to ensure that clear and accurate facts about the mineral industry are available on the web at what is seen as the first source for media, politicians and public”.

RepublicOfMining.com posts both the good and the bad about the industry and professes to be the largest digital database for media information about the Ring of Fire mining camp, the most important mineral discovery in Canada for a generation, if not longer.

In October 2011, Australian-based Mining IQ, a mining guide and international learning and communications portal, put RepublicOfMining.com, which has been in existence for four years, on its list of Top 10 Mining Blogs, one of only two Canadian sites to be included. Mining IQ says, “We especially like the variety of categories available on the site with commentary from aboriginal mining to mining education and women in mining to green mining”.

The Canadian Business Ethics Research Network called RepublicOfMining.com “The ultimate mining database!” It continued: “A new blog is fast becoming a go-to resource for professionals and academics involved in the mining and resource extraction industries. Republic of Mining has in fact become a large, well-researched repository for articles and information about Aboriginal mining issues in Canada and abroad”.

In addition to his blog, Sudol’s mining commentary routinely appears in Ontario print and radio and he is an occasional guest on Steve Paikin’s The Agenda when northern Ontario and mining issues are debated.

Current Ontario government policies that affect northern Ontario and the mining industry are giving him a lot to write about. A recent lengthy column on the Financial Post op-ed page raked the McGuinty LIBs over what Sudol terms the “proverbial coals” about the Far North Act demand to turn half the Far North into provincial parks. There has been heated opposition from the mining sector and most importantly, outright rejection of the Act by the vast majority of the region’s Aboriginal communities. The column highlighted many Aboriginal/mining industry success stories.

Sudol says: “Once-proud Ontario has turned into a ‘have-not’ province receiving $2.2B in equalization payments in fiscal 2011-12. Moody’s has placed the province on credit watch. Our social programs are not sustainable and yet the mining sector – which wants to sustainably develop the north’s rich mineral potential, create jobs and tax revenue – is being held back by government policies that are detrimental to the industry’s vibrancy. This is green economic madness!”

Sudol’s May 30, 2011 commentary in the Toronto Star highlighted the need for both the provincial and federal governments to invest taxpayer funds to build a railroad into the geologically rich – chromite, nickel, copper to name just a few minerals – Ring of Fire deposits in the far north to create jobs in both the south and north and provide employment for the region’s desperately poor Aboriginal communities.

“The junior mining sector is the lifeblood of the industry, doing the vast majority of greenfield exploration. The extremely rich Ring of Fire mining camp was discovered by junior companies which are also very upset with the Mining Act revisions,” says Sudol. “The government claims to be consulting with the industry but rarely listens to what we recommend. There is a real fear in the junior sector that current changes will drive many out of the province.”

As Sudol’s blog highlights, the world is in the middle of a commodity super-cycle driven by industrialization and urbanization of China, India and many other developing countries which can’t modernize without the mineral products northern Ontario digs out of the ground. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Stan Sudol and the RepublicOfMining.com.

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