Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Michael Atkins is President of Laurentian Media Group email@example.com His column was published in the October, 2010 issue.
“Australia’s position in global resources is not guaranteed. If we fail to remain competitive, Australia will incur a substantial opportunity cost and, in the worst-case scenario, our resources will fall into overseas hands and we will become a branch office — just like Canada…. We have been losing competitiveness, but we are well-placed to increase market share and we have the resources to do it, so Australia in the new world order needs to work out whether we become a competitor or a spectator.” Don Argus, Former Chairman of Australia’s BHP Billiton
If you run a business publication in Northern Ontario, you are never far from the politics of resources. We are always either discovering something new (say, the Ring of Fire) or coming up against something closing (say, the copper and zinc plants in Timmins), either suffering the effect of low prices or getting almost no benefit from higher ones. Lately, of considerable interest is not just what is happening but who owns what is happening.
We are living in an era of worldwide consolidation of the resource sector and this is having a tremendous impact on our prospects and profile. A couple of the consolidators are Canadian companies (say, Barrick Gold) but by and large Canada is disappearing as a serious player. We are pansies. We don’t have the guts and we don’t have the governance and we don’t have the wherewithal to find the capital. We are drifting into irrelevance.
We need look no further than the former chairman of Australia’s BHP Billiton, Don Argus, who said the following a few years ago as he was politicking to buy Rio Tinto, another mammoth mining company that incidentally had bought out another great Canadian company, Alcan: