Mining is a very important industry in Northwestern Ontario, always has been. It employs many hundreds of people from Marathon to Red Lake, more in related industries. It is a business that creates wealth literally right out of the ground. That’s why it is important that government help make the sector sustainable.
Case in point, the announcement late last week by Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle of $1.2 million in funding to prop up the junior exploration assistance program. The fund helps these companies claim up to $100,000 on specific projects that seek new mining possibilities.
It’s part of a $5 million investment that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund made to put together the second round of a junior exploration assistance program. “We’ve recognized that times are tough and commodity prices aren’t great,” said Gravelle.
“It has been more of a challenge for junior companies to find investments so we felt that it was a very important role for the provincial government to play.” We agree.
The more junior exploration companies and prospectors we have looking for new mineral discoveries in Northern Ontario, the more gold, silver and rare metals will be found, the more mines will open and the more communities will thrive and good jobs will be created.
Gravelle believes the junior companies are crucial to opening up new mines in five to 10 years. Ontario is home to 42 operating mines and employs 25,000 people. The mining supply and services sector employs up to 50,000 people, according to Gravelle.
“This gives us the ability to do more work,” said Michael MacIsaac, vice-president exploration for Metals Creek Resources.
“This program has enabled us to initiate a 2,400 drill program . . . it enables us to test a theory to say ‘instead of three drill holes we are able to do six’.”
MacIsaac said this doubles their chances of finding the next big discovery and gives investors more confidence in the companies that are working in Ontario.
“The junior exploration assistance program is feeding a growing system with prospectors on the bottom who usually find the first showings,” said Garry Clark, executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association.
“Then the junior companies come along and take the property from the prospector and move it forward to the point where a major company might come in.”
It takes a lot of work to open a new mine: the initial mineral discovery, and years of drilling to evaluate the financial feasibility of the deposit, consultations with local communities, provincial and federal government environmental assessments, etc. (Note: the Ring of Fire mining camp is an excellent example of over-thinking development by government. Despite its enormous promise, it remains in a bureaucratic limbo with no government willing to break through).
However, we can give kudos to the provincial government on the junior exploration program. An initiative that has the potential of finding the next new mine that will generate wealth for local communities, the Northwest region and all of Ontario.
For the original source of this editorial, click here: http://www.chroniclejournal.com/opinion/editorials/boost-to-mining-at-the-first-level/article_0de96ada-9253-11e6-806f-0f4055abd124.html