Sudbury is the Silicon Valley of underground mining research
Nickel Belt – (July 6, 2016): The Toronto-based Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity recently issued a report titled “Clusters in Ontario: Creating an ecosystem for prosperity” that, in the opinion of industry experts, overlooks Sudbury’s vibrant mining clusters.
Industrial clusters are interrelated businesses in compact geographical regions that are supported by educational, research and government institutions which enhance economic growth, prosperity and innovation through value-added manufacturing and internal/external exports.
Marc Serré, Nickel Belt MP and a member of The National Standing Committee on Natural Resources says, “Sudbury’s dynamic mining clusters are a globally unique concentration of Canadian hard-rock expertise and innovation, unique in North America and found in very few other cities around the world. My fear is that federal and provincial policy experts and politicians will read this report and assume any requests for multi-million dollar strategic investments for Sudbury to further enhance educational or research aspects would not be warranted.”
Sudbury’s well established world-class mining clusters employ approximately:
• 5,630 people in nine underground mines, two mills, two smelters and one nickel refinery – the largest concentration of mineral sector activity in North America;
• 13,500 people in 300 local mining supply and service sector business, and throughout northern Ontario, about 500 companies employ 23, 000 – on average this sector generates approximately $4 billion in sales in the Sudbury Basin and $5 billion throughout northern Ontario;
• 400 people in mineral sector education – Laurentian University, Cambrian College and College Boreal – and research in such well regarded institutes like the Centre for Mining Excellence (CEMI), NORCAT, Vale Living With Lakes Centre, Mirarco Mining Innovation, and Laurentian Earth Science’s Mineral Exploration Research Centre (MERC), just to name a few;
• 250 people work at the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the Ontario Geological Survey and other ministry offices with a mining focus. About one-third of the province’s mineral production takes place in the Sudbury Basin. Former Premier David Peterson saw the wisdom of relocating and concentrating government-related mining activities in Sudbury in order to enhance the growing global reputation of Sudbury’s status as a “Silicon Valley of hard-rock mining”.
Dick DeStefano, Executive Director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association says, “I am very dismayed at the research that the authors of this study conducted. In total, the Sudbury mining clusters alone employ over 19,780 people during a downturn in the commodity cycle who work in high-paying jobs, a growing number that export their products and expertise globally.”
The Sudbury Basin has been in production for slightly over 130 years and is the richest mining district in North America. Its unique polymetallic ore-bodies not only produce nickel, but copper, cobalt, gold, silver, sulfuric acid and platinum group metals (PGMs). It is the third largest producer of PGMs in the world after South Africa and Russia and a significant producer of cobalt a strategic metal vital for the production of batteries for electric vehicles.
Currently, Vale operates six mines – the Copper Cliff, Stobie, Garson, Coleman, Totten and the over hundred-year old Creighton – along with the Clarabell mill, Copper Cliff smelter and nickel refinery.
Glencore Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations operates two mines – Nickel Rim South and Fraser – as well as the Strathcona mill and the Sudbury smelter in the town of Falconbridge, while KGHM International mines the Morrison deposit through Glencore’s former Craig mine which is currently not in production.
Dr. Bruce Jago, P. Geo, the Executive Director of the Laurentian Goodman School of Mines says, “The enormous amount of mining and environmental and earth science related research in the Sudbury region – both private sector and government funded – has established the community as a global “Silicon Valley of hard-rock mining”. By any measure used by the internationally respected Harvard Professor Michael Porter – the “Godfather” of clusters – Sudbury is an extraordinary and thriving resource cluster.”
All companies have potential new deposits that may be brought into production pending on current international metal prices while junior explorers, Wallbridge Mining Company Limited and Transition Metals Corp., continue to look for promising deposits. The community has garnered significant international acclaim for its extensive land restoration activities – planting over nine million trees over the past few decades and reducing sulpher dioxide emissions by over 95% from 1970 levels.
Marc Serré says, “Most mining geologists confirm that the extraordinary geology of the Sudbury Basin will still be producing minerals and exporting their mineral sector expertise for many, many decades to come. In my view, the authors at the Institute of Competitiveness & Prosperity should strongly consider publishing an addendum highlighting the extraordinary uniqueness of the Sudbury mining clusters.”
Marc Serré MP Nickel Belt
Executive Director, Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association
Dr. Bruce C. Jago, P.Geo
Founding Executive Director
Goodman School of Mines, Laurentian University
705-675-1151 ext. 7227
Mining Policy Analyst
Publisher/Editor – RepublicOfMining.com