Exploring Innovation in Northern Canada with Insights from the Mining Innovation System in Greater Sudbury, Ontario – by Heather Hall (The Northern Review – June 29, 2017)


Heather Hall is the Assistant Professor, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at the University of Waterloo.

The Mining Innovation System in Greater Sudbury

The remainder of this article focuses on the development of the mining innovation system in Greater Sudbury to provide insights on innovation and economic development in northern regions.1

It is worth noting that Sudbury2 is a unique case study to investigate the northern dynamics of innovation in the Canadian context due to its size (population 165,000) and location. As will be discussed later, it is the largest community in northern Canada and is located in the southern part of the provincial North. That being said, the Sudbury case does provide insights into the economic development challenges that are faced by many communities across northern Canada.

It also highlights the importance of public investment and infrastructure for enhancing northern innovation. In the circumpolar context, Sudbury is not unlike Oulu (Finland), Tromsø (Norway), and Luleå (Sweden) in terms of its development, size, and function as a regional-service centre. To explore the mining innovation system, this article draws primarily on a review and analysis of secondary data including industry reports. It is also informed by previous research on regional development and innovation in peripheral regions.3

A Brief Profile of the City of Greater Sudbury

The City of Greater Sudbury is located in the symbolic and administrative region of Northern Ontario (see Figure 1). It has a population of 164,689 (Statistics Canada 2017) and is best known as being one of the largest
sites of nickel production in the world. Minerals were fi rst discovered in the Sudbury basin in the late 1880s, and by 1971 over 18,000 people were directly employed in the mining industry (Hall 2007).

While the current number of people employed directly in the mining industry is much smaller, the city is still known as one of the largest integrated mining sites with roughly 5,600 people employed in nine underground mines, two mills, two smelters, and one nickel refinery (Northern Ontario Business 2016). In 2011, the top industries by labour force included retail trade;health care and social assistance; public administration; and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (Greater Sudbury n.d.).

For the original source of this document: http://journals.sfu.ca/nr/index.php/nr/article/view/660

Professor Heather Hall joined the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development in 2016. Prior to that, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the International Centre for Northern Governance & Development, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. She holds a PhD in Geography from Queen’s University and a Master’s in Planning from the University of Waterloo. She specializes in research on regional development in rural and resource-based regions. https://uwaterloo.ca/school-environment-enterprise-development/people-profiles/heather-m-hall