Tag Archives | Canada Mining Supply and Services Sector

Dramatic Economic Times Impact Mining Sector – by David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

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For an economist, these are interesting times. The accumulating American triple deficit – on trade, the government budget and household spending – finally caught up with the people who live by lending. We get to see the most vehemently capitalist governments nationalizing banks and supporting the value of vast pools of imaginary assets. We even get to watch executives leaping off tall buildings with their golden parachutes.

For the mining industry and industry suppliers, the times are more than just interesting. Economic growth is utterly dependent on what the mining sector produces, and good times in the mining sector depend on economic growth.

The question on everybody’s mind as this column goes to press is whether the lunatics in the financial sector have actually pushed the world economy off the tracks. They have done it before.

The most common view out in the infosphere is that a world recession is almost inevitable. The majority of guesses say it could last six months to two years. There are a few who think the world will end, and a few who think that unprecedented co-operation among governments will have unprecedented results.

No one really believes that the long run story has changed. The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – still have the population, the potential and the momentum they had when Goldman Sachs identified them in 2001. They have been driving world growth, with help from the American consumer. Those BRIC consumers are just getting going.

Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese reminded shareholders in October that China’s economy is driven far more by industrialization and urbanization than by exports to the USA. The company expects demand in China to strengthen across a range of Rio Tinto products.

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Prospecting for Gold Mines in the Supply Sector- by Dr. David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Mining supply and service companies don’t normally own gold mines, but there are gold mines out there for companies that are looking. With mining booming and commentators expecting the good times to last, some innovations are getting long-overdue attention. Others are still waiting for the right company, or the right innovator to stumble across them.  It is a good time to go prospecting.

To position your company for the long run, you might want to look at some of the wilder prospects right now.  The trick is to figure out where to look. If it were easy, everyone would be rich. Strong prices and sustained demand are making a lot of our companies rich, in fact, but there are still some pretty interesting properties to stake. Here are a few hints.

 Think about boots, for example. Everyone wears boots. Anyone who has spent a day on his feet at a mine site knows that boots aren’t perfect. The way to make money on boots is to find a way to make boots increase productivity, reduce injuries, and minimize time lost. But how?

The gold mine is probably in custom orthotics. Bad boots hurt workers and cost companies money. Custom insoles reduce fatigue, backache and stress on the knees. Fatigue causes accidents and backache calls for prescription drugs and time off.  Continue Reading →

Social Capital, Clusters and Connections in Sudbury’s Global Mining Sector – by Dr. David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Scott Tiffin is a Canadian who lives in Chile. For the last five years he has been Director of Research and International Relations at the Universidad Alfonso Ibanez in Santiago, one of the best business schools in Latin America. Scott is an expert on entrepreneurship. He wants to help Chileans develop a dynamic mining supply sector, so last week Scott came to Sudbury to steal our ideas.

Scott especially wants to know how universities help resource sector businesses grow. He will look at Chilean, Canadian and Finnish or Australian examples to identify “best practices’’ that can be used to promote Chilean development.

The visit uncovered a few surprises: one Laurentian University Economics professor just back from Chile where he talked about how the supply and service sector developed, a team from the Faculty of Management collaborating with Chilean researchers to study small firms in the mining sector, and a couple of engineers just back from giving a course in Antofagasta. They didn’t know about each other’s work.

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Mining Suppliers are the Engine for Innovation – by Dr. David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Knowing how things work used to be the key to industrial success. Today, you have to know how things change. At the national level and in industry, innovation is the secret ingredient for success. Countries that innovate will grow wealthy. Companies with the best methods and the best technologies will grow. That’s the new gospel.

That’s why governments are looking for the magic policy to accelerate innovation and commercialization of new technologies. That’s why the mining supply and service sector is the key to the future of mining.

 There has been a flood of research on innovation systems. Researchers have focused on the ends of the supply chain – on research institutions and final users. Acting on that research, policy makers created a Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) at Laurentian University to bring mining companies and university researchers together.

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Global Prosperity to Impact on Mining – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury. (This article was originally published last winter.)

It is Christmas in the mining industry. Rio Tinto is handing out money to Alcan shareholders. China just signed a three billion dollar iron deal with Gabon. Xstrata has a $3.1 billion takeover offer for Perth-based Jubilee mines.

Talk of a takeover by BHP Billiton in September sent Rio Tinto shares up close to 18 per cent in just over a week.

South Korea is setting up a $22 billion fund to invest in global oil and gas projects, vying with China, Japan and India for resources as prices soar.

Where is all the money coming from? In a sense, it all comes from the imagination. The entire world is looking to a global society with a rich China, a rich India, rich Eastern Europe, and maybe even a rich Africa. The value of today’s ore deposits depends on whether you think they will be needed tomorrow. Continue Reading →

The Beauty of Mining Machines – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Mining is a rough industry and nowhere is it as challenging as Northern Ontario’s deep, hardrock operations. The mines are hot, dirty and wet. The air has to be pumped in, as if miners were working on another planet. At the bottom of the deepest mines, the rock creeps like toffee under pressure. It can shatter like glass, killing and trapping miners.

In this harsh world, equipment must do miracles. Ventilation systems move minus -40° air to a depth of 2,493 m. Hoist cables lift 4,000 tons per day. There is no room for mistakes. Yet these may be the safest mines in the world.

No wonder Sudbury is the training ground for so many mining experts and the testing ground for some of the toughest machines. The knowledge accumulated by the people of the Sudbury Basin is a treasure. It will grow in value as the mining industry battles to keep up with demand over the next century.

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The Future of Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Services Sector is Bright – Dr. David Robinson

The Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Dr. David Robinson’s column. This Sudbury-based magazine showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Dr. David Robinson

Here is the formula for a crystal ball. Take a cube of derived demand, add a book from a Singapore scholar, stir in some used predictions and a sprinkling of judgment. Apply this mix liberally to the mining supply and services industry and voilá – you can see the future.

Economists have long understood that nobody really wants grass seed – they like it once it has been turned into bread and a few people like it turned into lawns. Demand for wheat is almost all “derived” from the more basic demand for food. Demand for copper is even more indirect: copper makes wire to deliver electricity to bake bread. Nobody eats copper or stoves or electricity.

Nobody eats scoop trams, either. Continue Reading →