Inco must be nationalized, and the sooner the better. The need is pressing not because the firm’s management has squandered the immense Canadian wealth of the Sudbury, Ontario, and Thompson, Manitoba, ore bodies in ill-advised adventures in Guatemala, Indonesia and the United States. Nor is it because Inco’s management has exercised almost legendary arrogance and callousness with regard tot eh Canadian environment and in dealing with its Canadian work force (this summer’s strike at the company’s Sudbury operation was the third in seven years).
Inco must be nationalized for strictly economic reasons: it may be necessary in order to save the Canadian nickel industry, for never before has it been threatened at it is today. As stated in World Mineral Markets Stage II, a report recently released by the Ontario ministry of natural resources, North American nickel production will actually decrease over the next 10 years, even though total world nickel demand should increase moderately.
The projections on world nickel production made in the report should be disquieting to all Canadians, and a truly national debate over its pat management and future development is long overdue. The sad truth is that, despite the projected increase in demand for nickel during the next decade, Inco’s share of the market will continue to decline because of the nature of its competitors: most of the newer nickel-producing companies tend to be in the Third World and state-owned.