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.
Ontario Mining Association President Chris Hodgson encouraged members of the Canadian Institute of Mining´s Northern Gateway Branch in North Bay to help the public gain a broader appreciation of what mining does for society and the economy. In speaking to about 120 members of the CIM Branch at a luncheon meeting on December 3, he saluted many of the innovative communications initiatives carried out in North Bay including activities during the city´s Mining Week and reminded them of the many tools the OMA has developed to support these efforts.
“We need to encourage more people to recognize the value of mining to support the industry´s social license to operate,” said Mr. Hodgson. “Mining benefits all regions of the province and people need to see mining as a benefit to their communities. The outdated image of mining is not something one person, or one company, can change.” He provided a brief history of the OMA and its origins in 1920.
In striving to promote our industry, Mr. Hodgson provided the audience with a catalogue of communications tools developed by the OMA — most of which are available on the OMA website www.oma.on.ca. He mentioned the representative mine study conducted by economists at the University of Toronto “Ontario Mining: A Partner in Prosperity Building” which illustrates the local benefits in employment, Gross Domestic Product and tax revenues from one mine. This study follows through with the direct, indirect and tertiary level benefits. One representative mine can generate more than 2,200 well paying jobs on different levels, contribute $278 million to the GDP and provide $84 million in taxes annually.
Mr. Hodgson also mentioned the OMA First Nations video “Mining New Opportunities,” which is produced in five languages — Cree, Ojibway, Oji-Cree, French and English. Also, the virtual mine tour “NickelQuest” is available. This animation helps people gain an underground mining experience from the surface and it complements aspects of the Grade 7 and Grade 9 curriculums in Ontario. Also, in the communications area, the OMA is launching its high school video contest “So You Think You Know Mining.” This competition offers substantial cash prizes to encourage high school students to produce a two to three minute video on some aspect of the benefits of mining.
He also outlined the OMA´s partnership with Skills Canada Ontario in promoting awareness of career opportunities in the skilled trades and technology areas and in mining. “We want to make sure we don´t let the ball drop on encouraging young people to look into careers in mining,” he said. While current economic conditions may be reducing the prediction of the Mineral Industry Human Resource Council (MiHR) that the mining sector needs 92,000 new employees in the next decade, there still will be plenty of employment opportunities. MiHR has developed some scenarios to show the impact of no economic growth and an economic contraction on this number and they indicate the mining sector could still need between 45,000 and 60,000 new skilled workers in the next 10 years.
While Mr. Hodgson acknowledged that perhaps Ontario has slipped a little as an attractive place for mineral industry investment in recent years, the province´s geological potential remains strong and we need to work with government to development and implement the right policies and programs to bring that geologic potential to fruition. He added that the government at Queen´s Park is open and accesible and willing to work with the industry to help develop the province´s natural resources to benefit all Ontarians. “We need to make sure our policies are attractive and we need to bring more certainty to the policy framework,” he said. “There isn´t a jurisdiction in the world that wouldn´t benefit from permit streamlining.”
Many major OMA members, which are based in North Bay, were represented at the meeting including Redpath, Boart Longyear, Cementation Canada, Sandvik and Atlas Copco.