The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.
TIMMINS – With the real status of the Canadian economy checkered with question marks, mining remains a diamond in the rough and a driving force for industry in Ontario.
That’s according to an in-depth study performed by a research team at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and released by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) in early December.
“What the study really shows is that, while some other sectors may be having troubles right now, mining is a winner,” said Peter McBride, the OMA’s manager of communications. “Mining is dependable, and it certainly is a dynamic part of the economy right now, and it will be for the future.”
The OMA is one of the longest-serving trade organizations in Canada. Formed in 1920, it currently represents over 75 mineral producers in the province.
Highlighted in the University of Toronto study is the fact that, since 2002, Ontario’s overall international goods trade deficit has more than quadrupled. Mining, however, has moved in the opposite direction over the past decade, with the trade surplus for mineral products growing to more than $12 billion and remaining positive throughout.
The report suggests that the mining industry has wide-ranging socio-economic effects that reach far beyond its financial success.
“Mining is growing, and it has a lot of well-paying jobs,” explained McBride. “About 75% of the jobs in mining are at mine sites. The rest of them are people in labs doing research, they’re geologists out in the field, they’re accountants, occupational health and safety nurses, lawyers, insurance people, all that kind of stuff. The range of jobs that the industry provides is quite extraordinary.”
More than 16,000 jobs in the province were directly related to mining in 2011, while another 7,851 workers were employed in mining support activities. A total of 28% of the Canadian mining workforce is in Ontario.
McBride called the productivity numbers for mining “off-the-scale compared to other industries,” with each miner in Ontario averaging an output value of $740,000 per year.
“Because mining is so productive and it pays so well, there are huge spin-offs on what the miners use for supplies and where they spend their money,” said McBride. “You’ll see the induced impact of mining activity is very big on the retail sector, as well as accommodations and food services.”
A major component of the study is an input-output analysis. Essentially, researchers use this type of analysis to concretely estimate how much the economic output of the mining industry directly and indirectly affects the wide range of communities and other industries around it.
“We’re looking at a reality where, with an extra $1 billion of mineral sales in Ontario – now it’s $10.7 billion – you’d be looking at about 2,200 direct jobs being created, and another 4,000 indirect and induced jobs,” said McBride.
Though not explicitly expanded upon in the report, reference was made to Aboriginal employment in the industry. While only 3.8% of the Canadian population identifies as such, Aboriginal people made up 9.7% of the 2011 mining workforce in Ontario. McBride said that this jump is due largely to the opening of the DeBeers Victor diamond mine around Attawapiskat First Nation, but that it’s also indicative of a trend that marks the future of the industry.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.timminspress.com/2012/12/30/mines-on-gem-laden-path-to-2013