Numbers show mining still king in Sudbury – Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – March 12, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Sudbury is still very much a mining town, even if the definition of one has changed. “It’s a primary structural element of this community,” said Dick DeStefano, executive director for the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Centre. “It’s a wealth creator.”

He’s not surprised by the numbers in a recent report by the Ontario Mining Association, which underline not only the industry’s importance to the provincial economy, but also Sudbury’s importance to the industry.

According to the OMA report, in 2011, roughly 36% of mining employment in Ontario was here in Sudbury, while employment northeastern Ontario accounted for 30%.

That’s compared to 19% in Northwestern Ontario and 15% for southern Ontario, including jobs at non-metal mines and mining company offices.  Some 27,000 are employed directly in mining, and another 50,000 indirectly, in fabrication and processing of minerals in the province.

Northern Ontario’s mine supply and service sector, worth an estimated $5.6 billion per year, provides another 23,000 jobs.  They’re good jobs, too. The average weekly wage in mining is 60% higher than the average industrial wage in the province, according to the OMA report.

It all reinforces SAMSSA’s own study from 2010, DeStefano said.

“You take an aggregate mine in southern Ontario, where you’re primarily using a truck and a scoop – the employment impact is minimal,” DeStefano said. “But to mine underground, you need a lot more people and a lot more technology. It’s a different culture.”

It’s an increasingly exportable one, too. The value of mineral production in Ontario was more than $9.2 billion in 2012. Sixty per cent of the value of Ontario mineral commodities is exported.

“These numbers only reinforce, for me, that Sudbury is still a mining centre, except now we’re moving forward with new technology quite rapidly,” DeStefano said. “It’s a lot bigger than just your traditional mine, you know, you look at the Super Stack and you think you’re either working underground or not at all, but now there are alternatives. There are a lot of high-tech jobs and a lot of specialists out there.”

Supply companies also have more international opportunities than ever, as the big firms they deal with, Vale and Glencore, have operations across the world.

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