Northern Ontario communities to benefit from projected mining growth
A new report from the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) called the 'State of the Mining Sector' is forecasting a rosy outlook for the industry.
The forecast said gross domestic product (GDP) contribution from the mining industry in Ontario will grow 25 per cent between 2020 and 2025.
It comes on the heels of the first 'Critical Minerals Strategy' released by the Ontario government on Thursday.
"The commodity cycle is good. You're seeing a lot of factors coming together in terms of global supply chain and the change to electric, away from fossil fuels, that all requires what we make," said OMA President Chris Hodgson.
According to its figures, the GDP will grow from $7.5 billion in 2019 to an expected $9.3 billion by 2025. The value of minerals is expected to grow by 32 per cent and the number of full-time equivalent jobs will grow by seven per cent.
Hodgson said that the 25 per cent growth is a modest estimate.
"We try to be conservative in our projections and that was probably modest," he said.
"This study happened before the Ukraine war (and) you're seeing a lot of the issues that were identified through COVID supply chain weakness really put on steroids here with the geopolitical risk."
Demand for nickel, for example, has skyrocketed, with the transition metal being the key ingredient to batteries in electric vehicles. It's also taken some wild price swings after the start of Russian sanctions.
Hodgson said communities like Greater Sudbury and others in northern Ontario will benefit from the projected growth.
"I think it's good for the entire province as a whole," he said.
"There's geopolitical instability where you get these materials that are required to reduce the carbon impact in the fight against climate change. You've also got the supply chain getting shorter so there's less and less fuel required. These are things in which Sudbury, northern Ontario and all of Ontario could really help the world."
Magna Mining CEO Jason Jessup and his team are a junior mining exploration development company that has been looking to restart the old Shakespeare Mine west of Sudbury.
Ontario is fortunate
Jessup's not surprised by the rosy forecast.
"Ontario is obviously fortunate to have an abundance of natural resources and critical minerals such as nickel, copper and cobalt, which we mine a lot of here in Sudbury and there are tremendous resources here," he said.
"We see these as being very important."
The Sudbury-based company, like others in the sector, are applauding the introduction of Wednesday's strategy from the government.
"We think it's fantastic because what we need to do is attract more investment to the mineral exploration and mining space here in Ontario and we need to be able to compete globally," Jessup said.
"If you start looking at the vertical integration and how we're going to take ore from the ground and process that into value-added products that will eventually feed into electrical vehicle batteries that are manufactured here in Ontario, those numbers aren't overly surprising and it's extremely positive for the people of Ontario."
Shakespeare Mine would require 200 to 250 people working on-site to build the mine. Once it's up and running, it would employ about 150 people.
NSS Canada President Bruno Lalonde also wasn't surprised by the outlook and said it's good news for the city and the region as a whole.
The survey supply company has been a steady part of the mining supply sector in Sudbury for a few years now. It's now become a technology company as Lalonde and the team look to meet the burgeoning needs of the sector.
"We've been seeing it for quite some time, especially coming out of COVID, mining companies and the economy really looking at ways to drive growth within the community, federally and provincially," Lalonde said.
He said they've noticed the trend and tried to collaborate with the right people so they can be part of this innovation group.
CTV News was invited into a mine with the company last summer, along with Exyn Technologies, to see how their technology was being used. There was everything from drone use to 3-D mapping of mines.
"We've seen a lot of talk and hype but it's finally nice to see pen being put to paper," said Lalonde.
"We knew there was going to be some big numbers and COVID has allowed us to become more efficient with our time, especially in the mining industry. We're seeing a technology gap, and with the gap, we need resources and minerals to be able to support it."
Ontario currently has 41 active mining operations that deal with everything from precious and base metals to non-metallic minerals.
In 2020, the mining sector produced roughly $10.7 billion worth of minerals.
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