Mining Still Glitters in Northern Ontario – Stan Sudol

This article was originally published in the Sudbury Star on October 8, 2004

In July, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein proudly announced that his province’s massive debt has been slain. However, he could not have accomplished that historic feat without the development of northern Alberta’s booming oilsands economy and ensuing resource royalties. Sadly, Ontario, struggling with a $142-billion debt and a $100-billion infrastructure deficit, is largely ignoring the mineral rich potential of its north.

According to the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, over the next 50 years the world will use five times all the mineral supplies that have ever been mined up to the year 2000.

China, India, Brazil and other emerging countries are rapidly industrializing their economies, which require a wide variety of base metals, many of which could be found in one of the world’s richest geological regions — northern Ontario. We are entering a commodity boom that could last for decades.

Historically, northern Ontario’s mineral wealth has provided high paying jobs, supplied significant tax revenues to Queen’s Park and helped settle much of the region. The mining sector still generates enormous wealth and industrial activity.

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Sudbury’s Future is Still Underground – Stan Sudol

This article was originally published in the Sudbury Star on March 5, 2004

The total contribution to the Canadian economy from metals and industrial minerals is approximately $18 to $20 billion annually. Most of this activity takes place in northern and rural areas of the country. Mining is one of the most technology dependant sectors of the Canadian economy relying on innovation and automation to keep costs down, improve productivity and over the past twenty five years significantly reduce pollution.

Sudbury is a world leader in a wide variety of mining research activities including mine automation and telerobotics. Laurentian University has a federally funded Canada Research Chair in Robotics and Mine Automation headed by Dr. Greg Baiden. He has been described as the “Bill Gates of the mining sector” for his development of this leading-edge technology that is revolutionizing the way minerals are extracted from the ground.

Surprisingly, Canada does not have a major National Research Council (NRC) funded facility dedicated to the mining sector. For an industry that has encouraged the exploration and settlement of vast areas of the North, created enormous amounts of wealth, and established the country as a world leader in a wide variety of mining endeavors, this is incredibly short-sighted.

Australia, a major mineral producer with a population of only 19 million, has two world- class research institutes dedicated to mining innovation.

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What Sparkles in Sudbury is the Cluster of Mining Related Expertise and Innovation – Stan Sudol

This article was originally published in the Sudbury Star on November 21, 2003 (This is an expanded version of the original article.)

Sudbury’s Mining Cluster Is By Far Its Biggest Asset

Sudbury is one of the most fortunate cities of the 21st century.  In this new age of digitized, globalized commerce, this is one of the few communities in the world that has an internationally recognized cluster of mining expertise and knowledge. That was the reason why the South African trade mission recently visited the city.

There probably isn’t a mining engineer or geologist in North America or the world that has not made a pilgrimage to this “Mecca of mining” at least once in their lives.

For over 100 years, Sudburians have been honing their skills on the richest mining camp in the history of mankind. The total value of historic mineral production and present reserves from the Sudbury Basin exceeds U.S. $320 billion.

However, it is the 275 local mining supply and services companies, not Inco or Falconbridge that constitute the economic cluster that has been highlighted in the local media over the past two years. The knowledge of how to mine, not the mines themselves is the basis of a prosperous future for Sudbury.

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It’s Time To Focus On Sudbury’s Globally Significant Mining Sector – Stan Sudol

This column was originally published in the Sudbury Star on October 31, 2003

And turn Laurentian University into the Harvard of the mining sector

Every successful high-technology cluster around the world is anchored by a large engineering school with well funded research programs.  This connection supports the cluster businesses to create and apply new technologies and to successfully compete internationally.

In most technology clusters, many of the start-up firms are spun-off of university research activities. The best example of this is California’s Silicon Valley, the premier high-technology centre in the world and it connection with Stanford University’s renowned engineering faculty.

President Hoover, who graduated as a mining engineer from Stanford, eloquently wrote in 1909, “To the engineer falls the work of creating from the dry bones of the scientific fact the living body of industry. It is he whose intellect and direction bring to the world the comforts and necessities of daily need. … Engineering is the profession of creation and of construction, of simulation of human effort and accomplishment.”

The technology related sectors of science, math and engineering are the wealth creators of any society or country. It is the engineering schools of the world that produce innovative business people like Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple Computer.  With this wealth creation societies are able to afford health care, education, social programs and high quality infrastructure.

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Sudbury Must Become Mining Technology Leader – Stan Sudol

This article was originally published in the Sudbury Star on August 8 , 2003

Sudbury is the greatest mining centre in the world:it’s time we were treated like it

The Sudbury Nickel Basin is the greatest mining camp the world has ever seen. It has been in continuous operation for over 100 years and after the Alberta Tar Sands, is the second most important natural resource in this country. The total value of historic mineral production and present reserves from the Basin exceeds $320 billion U.S.

Nickel, a greyish-white metal, is an essential component of stainless steel, the industrialized world’s wonder alloy. Stainless steel’s resistance to oxidation, corrosion and insolubility in water, is used for hospital equipment, electronics, aerospace super-alloys, military weapons, batteries, and even the coins in your pocket and the kitchen sink. The modern digitized, globalized economy of the 21st century would quite literally grind to a halt without nickel.

Notwithstanding the current labour disruptions at Inco Limited, Sudbury is not dying and the 14 active nickel mines that account for approximately 12 per cent of the world’s supply of nickel are not running out of ore. In fact, in the past few years, five significant new deposits have been discovered.  In the geological world, these discoveries are absolutely astonishing for a mining camp as old and well explored as Sudbury.

Many geologists believe the prolific Sudbury Igneous Complex will still be producing nickel, copper, cobalt, gold, silver and platinum group metals one hundred years from now and will still be contributing generous tax revenues for both provincial and federal treasuries all the while.

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Sudbury’s High-tech Mining Mania – by Stan Sudol

This column was originally published in the Sudbury Star on November 10, 2002

Government’s Overlook Sudbury’s High-Tech Mining Cluster

Well known for its rich nickel-copper deposits, Sudbury, Ontario sustains the world’s largest mining/industrial complex. For the past century, these rich ore bodies have contributed enormous wealth, measured in the trillions of dollars, to the Canadian economy and have positioned the community as a leader in mining technology development and mining supply and services.

However, Canada’s heavily urbanized population tends to view mining as a low tech industry contributing little to the knowledge based economy of the 21st century.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unfortunately, the combination of Sudbury’s undeserved, negative image, and distance from the country’s media and political centres are causing senior governments to overlook a high-technology cluster of mining supply businesses and research institutes.

This growing cluster of mining expertise could establish Canada as a world leader and create a booming northeastern Ontario economy if senior levels of government make the necessary strategic investments. 

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