This year, the Ontario Mining Associ¬ation is celebrating its 90th anniver¬sary – a worthy measure by any yardstick. We thank The Northern Miner for this special publication to acknowledge the OMA’s anniversary and for sharing in the association’s landmark occasion.
Celebrating important anniversaries provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the past for individuals and organizations. These anniversaries also give impetus to look where we are today and to measure accomplishments of how much progress has been made. However, they should also be used to look to the future and predict where we may be at anniversaries yet to come.
The OMA is one of the longest-serving trade organizations in the country and its strength rests with its dedicated member companies.
Since 1920, there have been 15 different Canadian prime ministers, 17 different Ontario premiers and 32 different Ontario mines ministers. In 1920, we lived in a world without televisions, computers, internet, satellite communi¬cations, high-level medical diagnostic equipment, cell phones, super highways and global airline routes. Mankind has provided the ingenuity, and mining has provided the materials to create these advances in modern society.
As the world has progressed, so too has the OMA and the mining industry in this province – and they will continue to do so. Let’s look at mine safety. In the last 20 years, Ontario’s mining industry has recorded a 91% improvement in accident frequency reduction and a 65% reduction in medical aid frequency. For the first four months of 2010, mining was the safest industry in the province.
Through partnerships among management, unions and government and large investments in safety training, OMA members are reaching for the milestone of zero lost-time incidents by 2015. This is the type of commitment the industry is making to its employees and the type of working environment it is striving to provide in the future.
Back in 1920, the word environment was not found in the dictionary. As with safety, the industry has made great strides forward environmentally. From 1990 to this year, the industry has reduced the release of a variety of substances from its operations by 87%.
We know mining has a huge role to play in building the green economy of the future that society strives to achieve. Mining provides the materials needed for water purification, renewable energy, energy conservation, rechargeable batteries and pollution controls and it is provid¬ing these essential materials in better ways. As the industry continues along the path of continuous improvement, it is becoming a greener industry in its own right.
In Ontario, mining is going in two general directions – deeper and further north. As many older mines in established camps such as Sudbury, Timmins and Red Lake go deeper, new vistas with geological potential are being explored. The Ring of Fire region in the far north holds tremendous mineral potential. It has gained industry and media attention and been mentioned in the 2010 Throne Speech and Provincial Budget.
Perhaps no industry plays a greater proportionate role in helping to develop First Nation capacity than mining. The industry is the largest private sector employer of Aboriginals, who comprise 7.5% of the mining workforce in Canada. This number is growing and some operations have more than 40% of their employees from First Nations. In Ontario there are in excess of 40 Impact Benefit Agreements that have been signed between First Nations and mining companies. The industry is playing an expanding role in providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for Aboriginals. This role will continue to grow in the future.
Another important group that needs to play a larger role in mining is females. While women comprise almost half of the total Canadian workforce, they make up less than 15% of the mining workforce. The industry is striving to become more female friendly and in growing numbers women are playing a bigger part in mineral production and processing. There is a long way to go, but more of mining’s future workforce will be female.
The OMA works with Skills Canada — Ontario to promote greater awareness of skilled trades and technologies among high school students. The association also manages its high school video competition, “So You Think You Know Mining”, which strives to put computer-savvy students with an artistic bent on the path toward a greater understanding of mining. We hope that these initiatives develop future mining sector employees and provide future decision makers with a better appreciation of the realities of modern mining.
Mining is working to go the extra mile in many areas to be a responsible partner in society. It is working hard to become a greener, more ecologically friendly and sustainable industry making contributions to the economy and our lifestyles. These are the things the OMA wants to celebrate at future anniversaries. We look forward to assessing the progress in our centennial year — 2020.