Former Premier David Peterson’s July 30, 1986, Laurentian University Speech Announcing the Relocation of MNDM and the OGS to Sudbury

In light of the recent decision to put Federal and Provincial money into mining research at the University of Toronto instead of Laurentian, I have posted former Premier David Peterson’s July 30, 1986 historic speech announcing the relocation of MNDM and OGS to Sudbury.

This was one of the most significant economic turning points in the community’s history.

In this speech, Peterson outlines a previous Liberal Government’s entirely different attitude to the sustainable, long-term development of Northern Ontario as well as proudly helping build a global cluster of mining expertise in Sudbury, the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most strategic in the world.

Honourable David R. Peterson PC, QC

Just over three weeks ago, I was in Sault Ste. Marie with some of my colleagues to announce elements of a northern Ontario economic development strategy this government will carry out over the next few years.

As a first step in this process, we announced a combination of new and accelerated government projects to provide a needed short-term stimulus to that area’s flagging economy.

But we also recognized that the challenges facing the North are related to deeper, more profound changes taking place in the economy. This restructuring is needed to ensure the competitiveness of our resource industries in the international market place.

To better understand and address these longer term, structural changes, we announced in Sault Ste. Marie a number of measures the Government will take.

These include an in-depth examination of the factors affecting the North’s competitive position; a major economic conference I will chair in that city this fall; and the transfer of some 360 public sector positions to the Soo.

One of the reasons we are undertaking these initiatives is to offset to some extent the North’s dependence on the resource industries, thereby widening the region’s economic base.

But having said that, and recognizing the importance of diversifying the northern economy, let’s be clear on one point. This Government believes the North’s forestry and mining companies will continue to be the driving force of its economy for the foreseeable future.

We recognize the enormous contribution companies like Inco and Falconbridge have made, and will continue to make, not just to Sudbury and the North, but to Ontario and Canada.

In a fiercely competitive climate, the efforts these companies are making to become more efficient have been largely successful – in some cases, dramatically so.

It is a hard truth perhaps, but a truth nonetheless, that to remain competitive, these companies will have to continue increasing productivity. And they will have to do so in ways that make the workplace even sager than it is now.

In mining, that means finding even more ways to lower costs, improve safety practices and develop new technologies. Quite simply, we must be prepared to compete with the rest of the world.

As Doctor Walter Curlook, President of the Canadian Mining Association, has said on many occasions, to do that requires two steps:

First we must increase our research efforts.

Secondly, but just as important, we must find new ways to coordinate the work already going on at the University level with what industry and government are doing. In plain language: WE HAVE TO GET OUR ACT TOGETHER!

Today I am pleased to announce a number of important initiatives that will help put Ontario in the forefront in mining and mineral research.

Recognizing that effective research and development must be industry-led, the Ontario Mining Association is creating a Mining Research Directorate here in Sudbury. This directorate is being formed to promote and co-ordinate mining research activities among member companies and other research organizations.

The establishment of this research directorate comes as a specific response to a major recommendation in the Stevenson Report into ground control and emergency preparedness commissioned by my government.

In keeping with some of the conclusions drawn by the Stevenson Report, the Mining Research Directorate will initially concentrate on ground control and rock mechanics in underground hard-rock mines.

The Directorate will be totally financed by industry, but will also have representation from labour, the universities and the Provincial and Federal governments.

This is a major step in improving mine safety and productivity in this province, a step the Ontario Government has encouraged, and welcomes.

A second initiative, closely allied to the Directorate, relates to a recommendation in the Stevenson Report concerning the need for better education in the areas of ground control and rock mechanics.

It is with great pleasure that I am announcing the establishment of a Chair in Rock Mechanics and Ground Control to be endowed by the Government of Ontario here at Laurentian University.

Arrangements have been made for a cross appointment to Queen’s University. In addition, the two universities have agreed to formalize their relationship and co-operate in establishing joint research and instructional programs that I am sure will benefit both institutions.

These combined research initiatives on the part of the public and private sector recognize the need for co-operation at all levels if research is going to be practical and produce results.

Industry’s involvement can provide that practical bent and a focused effort to solve specific problems. The universities can bring their special expertise and academic independence to the exercise.

Government provides an important link between the universities and the industry in the province’s mining and minerals research efforts. The Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) enjoys an international reputation for both the extent of its geological data and the quality of interpretation given that data by OGS professional staff.

Recognizing the importance of that linkage, and the benefits of proximity in research, I am announcing today the relocation of the Ontario Geological Survey and the Mineral Resources Branch to Sudbury, together with the head office functions of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

In addition, the Toronto-based staff of the Mining Health and Safety Branch of the Ministry of Labour will be relocated here.

This branch is responsible for safety in mines throughout the province and operates Canada’s only wire rope laboratory for the testing of cables used in hoists and elevators in mining and manufacturing plants.

About 290 positions will be affected in these two moves. While most of these positions will be located in Sudbury, some may be deployed elsewhere in Northern Ontario to meet the needs of a re-organized Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

These moves will bring many benefits to Sudbury and the North. They clearly reinforce the new thrusts I have already referred to in mining research and technology and they further strengthen the city’s role in the mineral industry.

They also bring mining functions in the Government closer to the mines and the miners they serve, and provide new, stable jobs for an economy that is undergoing major adjustment in its mining sector.

At the same time, the transfer of Northern Development staff to the region they serve will improve the decision making process for that side of the Ministry. With increased strength on the ground from both sides of the organization, we will be providing a better foundation to co-ordinate an ongoing Northern Ontario economic development strategy.

With the transfer of all provincial mining and mineral research functions to Sudbury, the Provincial Government is helping to make Sudbury a Centre of Excellence in Mining and Minerals. At the same time, we are honouring our commitment to the North.

We recognize that the Ministry must continue to serve its industry clients across the province. Important linkages have developed over the years, especially in Toronto. One of the most important issues for us, as we plan the moves, is maintaining these necessary linkages. We will be looking to industry for guidance in this regard.

It seems only appropriate given today’s announcements that Laurentian University should be hosting this fall a two-week united nations sponsored international seminar on the use of electronic data processing methods in mineral exploration and development.

The conference will attract participants from 25 countries and is the first of its kind to be held in Sudbury. But not the last, by any means.

Sudbury was chosen as the site for this conference because of its growing reputation as a Centre of Mining Experience and Know-How. This Government wants to build on that reputation and put Sudbury on the road to being an internationally recognized Centre of Excellence in the Earth Sciences, Mining and Mineral Research.

To do that means increasing the store of mining knowledge that is here already. The programs I have outlined will help to do just that.