This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.
A recently released detailed study shows that municipalities in Northwestern Ontario are receptive to and welcoming of responsible mineral development and the benefits it can provide. “Advantage Northwest Mining Readiness Strategy” (MRS) shows that projected mine development can create 10,000 jobs and between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in economic revenue to the area annually over the next decade.
Much of the work involved in the MRS examines 10 mining projects – nine advanced exploration projects and one mine expansion. It also examines spin-off activities. “From the discussion, it is evident that there is massive potential for current as well as prospective new supply services to enter or expand their involvement in the mining supply chain and achieve substantial growth.”
The projects on which the MRS is based are mineral developments of several Ontario Mining Association members. They include Goldcorp, Cliffs Natural Resources, Noront Resources, Rainy River Resources, Rubicon Minerals, Claude Resources, Osisko Resources, Stillwater Mining Canada and North American Palladium.
The MRS is forward looking and examines several building blocks, which must be in place in order for full development to proceed. Among the 30-plus recommendations of the MRS is a key one on electricity as necessary infrastructure.
“It is recommended to accelerate the development of transmission infrastructure for reinforcing Pickle Lake and Red Lake and supplying the Ring of Fire. The delay in the development of infrastructure required by the mine sites will introduce equivalent delay and potential cancellation or considerable downsizing of the proposed mining projects.”
Transportation is also a major component of the study. “The lack of transportation infrastructure is recognized as a major obstacle for mining development in the Ring of Fire. First Nations communities along the proposed corridor will also benefit from secondary roads potentially from the corridor into their communities and therefore employment, business development and electrical transmission.”
In addition, the document examines housing issues, the availability of industrial land and training area residents to be equipped for the jobs being created. “It is apparent that training opportunities in Northwestern Ontario are well suited to preparing the local workforce for employment opportunities in the growing economy. The training institutions of Northwestern Ontario have built relationships and have extensive knowledge of the region’s residents.”
“Most of the institutions, most notably Aboriginal training institutions, are helping to provide programs tailored specifically to the needs of Aboriginal students and prospective students.” The MRS suggests that “effective partnering arrangements that involve public and private sector and First Nations communities are likely to enhance opportunities to provide the creative financing necessary to develop key projects that will enhance the feasibility of many mining projects and facilitate development of many others.”
This 398-page document is a comprehensive, inclusive and integrated economic development plan designed to help Northwestern Ontario stakeholders focus and capitalize on opportunities that mining development can bring to this region of Ontario. “Be it job creation, business opportunities, infrastructure development or an improved quality of life for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations, this is a once in century opportunity for the region, the province and the country as a whole.”
The MRS was commissioned by the City of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission and the Fort William First Nation. Other partners involved in this project include FedNor, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, Thunder Bay International Airport, Thunder Bay Port, Thunder Bay Hydro, TBay Tel, Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), Lakehead University and Confederation College.
A full version of the MRS can be found on the NOMA website at www.noma.on.ca. The document is both a call to action and an open window on the potential benefits responsible modern mining development can bring.