Mining industry supports Ontario’s transportation infrastructure

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.

The foundation of the multi-faceted transportation infrastructure that we all share in Ontario is supported by the province’s mining industry. According to the economic impact study Mining: Dynamic and Dependable for Ontario’s Future, which was completed by two University of Toronto economists, “One sector of the economy that depends vitally on mineral production in the province is the transport sector.”

The province’s marine transport industry serves mining customers and relies on mineral products. According to the study, minerals account for 56% of the cargo shipped by volume from Ontario Great Lakes ports to other locations in the province, 14% of cargo shipped elsewhere in Canada and 54% of cargo shipped internationally through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

All in all, 44% of the total cargoes carried by the marine industry in Ontario are mineral products. On the national level, the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) in its publication Facts & Figures indicates about 50% of all marine cargo traffic in the country involves minerals.

As heavy users of transportation infrastructure that benefits us all, mining companies often invest in the construction and maintenance of these facilities. For example, OMA member Sifto Canada joined forces with the Town of Goderich and the Goderich Port Management Corp in a public-private partnership to expand and enhance the local port. The three parties signed a memorandum of understanding for the $47 million project.

The plan involves the creation of six hectares of new industrial land at the harbour, new docks for ships carrying salt, aggregate and agricultural products, new storage facilities, repairs to existing port infrastructure and the installation of new break walls. Sifto Canada operates the world’s largest underground salt mine in Goderich, which is the only seaway depth port on the east side of Lake Huron. Ontario’s 15 leading ports account for about 30% of Canada’s domestic marine trade and 17% of Canada’s international port trade.

Ontario’s rail system also relies heavily on mining companies for its revenues, according to the economic impact study. Minerals account for about 44% of rail traffic within Ontario, 21% of Ontario rail traffic destined for elsewhere in Canada and 37% of Ontario-originating rail traffic heading to the United States and Mexico. Ontario minerals comprise about 30% of the cargoes of all rail traffic by volume originating in Ontario.

Similarly on the national level, MAC says “rail became more dependent on the mining industry in 2010, with 50% of this commodity volume coming from mining compared to 44% in 2009.”

While creeping along Highway 401 or the Don Valley Parkway may not be the time to appreciate this but a quick examination of an Ontario road map illustrates the importance of mining in developing ground transportation systems in this province. Along, with moving commodities, mining supports transportation companies involved in the movement of people.

Fly-in, fly-out mines rely on airplanes for the movement of employees and contractors. Mineral exploration activities require the use of helicopters. Buses are often involved in the movement of mine workers from communities to mine sites.

Also, to serve many remote and isolated communities, which are not connected to main provincial road and rail networks, temporary winter roads are constructed to help truck essential supplies to First Nations communities and mine sites. Often the costs of building and maintaining winter roads are borne by mining companies.

A full version of Mining: Dynamic and Dependable for Ontario’s Future, which can be downloaded, can be found on the OMA website Mining has an important role is supporting the transportation infrastructure, which is vital to Ontario’s prosperity, and ensuring it is dynamic and dependable going forward.