MiHR Sudbury Case Study Focus: Education/Training and Relationship with Mining Industry

The Mining Industry Human Resource Council (MiHR) was formed to address the human resources challenges in the Canadian mining industry.

This case study on post-secondary mining education in the Sudbury region came from a 2005 report called “Prospecting the Future: Meeting Human Resources Challenges in the Canadian Minerals and Metals Industry”.

 Please note that some of the enrolment figures will be much higher today and some charts have been omitted due to format issues.

MiHR Sudbury Case Study Focus: Education/Training and Relationship with Mining Industry


This case study examines the mining industry in Sudbury and its well-developed infrastructure for mining-related education, training and research.

Sudbury is one of Canada’s few long-lived mining sites, with mining operations dating back more than 100 years. The mining industry got its start in the area in 1883, when ore with high levels of copper sulphites were discovered. The formation is one of the most productive mining sites in the world and is generally thought to be the result of a meteorite impact.(58) The major commodities mined in the area are nickel, copper, gold, silver, platinum group metals and cobalt.

Sudbury is Canada’s leading mining community and is considered one the world’s four great mining “city-states.” (59) It is the only city in the world with 15 producing mines within city limits.

With known reserves, the industry is predicted to continue for another 100 years,(60) although the rate of production, and hence level of employment, will eventually decline as ore-bodies are exhausted.

The “Sudbury Mining Supply and Services Cluster” is the largest integrated mining cluster in the world.

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Mining Layoffs Affecting Smaller Sudbury Companies – by Bill Bradley

Date Published – Mar. 9, 2009

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

The mining layoffs at Vale Inco and Xstrata are making the headlines.

But the pain is also being felt by employees in smaller companies, said one laid off worker at Mansour Mining Inc.

Jeff Marsolais, a laid off worker at Mansour Mining, said he knew of up to 70 fellow employees that have been laid off.

“Vale Inco and Xstrata layoffs get all the headlines. But the smaller companies are cutting jobs too. We are getting cut. We have families and bills to pay too,” said Marsolais.

Laurentian University economist David Robinson said smaller companies are always at risk.

“There is no guarantee for anyone these days. But there are wonderful companies here that have survived the up and down cycles in the past. We certainly are on a roller coaster now though,” said Robinson.

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261 Vale Inco Sudbury Jobs Cut Locally, 900 Worldwide – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Two hundred sixty one of the 900 job cuts announced at Vale Inco Mar. 3 are in Sudbury. The rest are at the company’s operations worldwide.

The workforce reductions are mostly focused on corporate, management and business support operations, according to a Vale Inco press release. Vale Inco employs 14,000 people worldwide.

“We are cutting jobs across the board, but none in our production operations in Greater Sudbury,” said Cory McPhee, manager of corporate communications for Vale Inco.

Sixty-five members of Steelworkers 2020 office and technical workers are affected by the cuts, said McPhee. Local 6500 members are not impacted by the announcement, he said.

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Sudbury Community Furious About Xstrata Layoffs – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Many Sudbury residents are furious that Xstrata Nickel laid off 686 workers Feb. 9 given an anti-layoff agreement the Swiss company signed in 2006 when it took over Falconbridge Ltd.

“In July 2006, the Minister of Industry allowed the Swiss-based Xstrata to buy-out Canadian based Falconbridge, on the condition that Canadian jobs would be protected for three years,” said Sudbury New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault, in a release.

“This (announcement of layoffs) is cold comfort to the 700 Canadians who have lost these so-called protected jobs,” said Nickel Belt New Democrat MP Claude Gravelle.

Both federal politicians said there is still time for the federal government to say no to the job cuts.

In an Xstrata release dated July 25, 2006, it is stated, “to demonstrate net benefit to Canada in order to obtain the approval under the Investment Canada Act, Xstrata has provided to the minister several important commitments in respect of Falconbridges’s operations and employees in Canada.”

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Rumours About Possible Mining Shutdown Circulating in Sudbury – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Rumours have been circulating in the city about the possible shutdown of major mining operations in the city.

At the present time, Northern Life has been unable to substantiate any shutdown by Vale Inco or Xstrata.

One rumour has it that Vale Inco will make an announcement next week about a four month shutdown starting March 1, 2009. The action would be for infrastructure improvements and repairs to key parts of the operation.

Angie Robson, manager of external relations for Vale Inco, said Friday the rumour has no basis in fact and is idle speculation.

“Our company has a policy that we do not comment on rumour or speculation,” said Robson.

John Fera, Local 6500 Steelworkers president, disputes the rumours, saying his sources told him Thursday night no shutdown was forthcoming at Vale Inco. He confirmed that for Northern Life Friday morning, after calling his source.

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Year In Review – Sudbury’s Economy: Boom to Bust? – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Greater Sudbury’s economy went from boom town status in 2008 to layoffs and growing fear in the community. Mining executives like Xstrata’s Mike Romaniuk, and Vale Inco’s Fred Stanford had been bullish on the future. “The world simply can’t get enough nickel,” said Stanford Feb. 6th at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

But by the early fall, a stock market crash started a series of layoffs in local mining companies and service and supply companies. Retired miner, Laurie Chartrand, 63, from Chelmsford, said he was down $25,000 from the stock market crash and knew some who had lost $200,000. He had a novel idea.

“We need the government to start a voucher system for those who have lost money like myself so we would have the ability to buy the cars that use our metals,” said Chartrand.

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Sudbury’s Copper Cliff South Mine Suspending Production – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Greater Sudbury’s economy will now be further affected by the growing world economic crisis.

In early November, Xstrata Nickel announced it will cease operations at Craig and Thayer-Lindsay nickel mines, affecting 250 employees. Early retirement options are being pursued by the company and union.

Now the city’s largest employer, Vale Inco, with over 5,000 employees, is stopping production at one mine and mothballing a development project due to slumping prices and demand, said Vale Inco spokespersons Thursday.

Vale Inco announced production cutbacks at its Greater Sudbury operations Thursday morning.

However, for now, the shutdown of the Copper Cliff South Mine and the one year postponement of the Copper Cliff Deep project will not involve layoffs of any Vale Inco employees, said Cory McPhee, director, Vale Inco communications and public affairs.

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Vale Inco’s Emissions Plan Does Not Impress Sudbury Residents – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Vale Inco is asking the Ontario government for relief on its nickel emissions levels.

But that did not sit well with some residents at a public information meeting at the Italian Club Thursday night.

The event was hosted by the company to inform residents about how they project having difficulty meeting Regulation 419, established by the Ontario government in 2005.

“Through the regulation, the province has set newer or more stringent air quality standards,” said Ed Cocchiarella, manager of the environment, Ontario Operations of Vale Inco.

“Our measured results at monitoring stations around the perimeter of the smelter complex show we are in compliance with the standard on nickel approximately 98 per cent of the time,” said Cocchiarella.

That is because the company has embarked on an ambitious emissions reduction program over the years, resulting in a 90 per cent reduction in SO2 emissions since 1970.

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Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 3 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityIV: COMPANY & GOVERMENT INVESTMENTS IN LOCAL BUSINESSES

Maximizing the Potential of our Local Cluster

More money is spent within a 500-kilometer radius of Sudbury on underground hardrock mining supplies than anywhere else in Canada, the U.S, or Chile. In 2005, lnco spent $374 million on local supplies and services and $228 million on capital spending, Within the Sudbury area there are more than 300 companies that form the basis for the Greater Sudbury mining supply and services (MS&S) cluster. These companies range from dozens of small specialty shops that have created niche markets for themselves, to firms specializing in project engineering and management, equipment design and manufacture, software development and other research.

Employing over 8,000 people, they have the potential to create a significant number of new jobs over the next 10 years, expand exports and develop as a technical leader for the mining industry. A recent Institute for Norfhern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) survey conducted for FedNor at Laurentian University indicates that innovation is extremely high among the cluster of MS&S companies in Northeastern Ontario. The study revealed that 83 out of 90 of the firms surveyed indicated they were upgrading products and services and 72 out of 93 had introduced a new product or service in the preceding three years.

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Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 2 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityINVESTMENT REQUIREMENTS


Local Operations Managed by Two Major Mining Companies

lnco is planning capital expenditures of about $2 billion in the Sudbury Basin over the next five years to expand current production and build new mines. The company is embarking on the largest period of growth in Sudbury in more than 30 years. This is a conservative estimate and depending on the financial clout of the new owner, may be increased substantially, lnco has plans for new mine developments that include the Kelly Lake and Totten deposits, milling upgrades, smelter improvements, including investments in sulphur emission reductions and expansions at the nickel refinery. The company intends to maintain the stability of their workforce, with longer-term growth potential.

Falconbridge’s half billion-dollar Nickel Rim South project, currently under construction, may become the richest individual mine in Canadian history.

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Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 1 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityIn the summer of 2006, Greater Sudbury residents were extremely concerned that the local community was being overlooked during the foreign takeovers of Inco and Falconbridge. The then Mayor David Courtemanche asked me to produce a policy document that outlined the community’s concerns about the impending loss of Sudbury’s two iconic Canadian miners to foreign ownership.

Many community stakeholders were interviewed and an aggressive first draft was delivered to Mayor Courtemanche. To the concern of some of the stakeholders, myself included, the final version was less bold and assertive than originally planned.

However, it was an honour to play a key role in the production and writing of “Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community” during this pivotal time in the mining history of the Sudbury Basin.

Stan Sudol

Executive Summary

“There is an international bidding war taking place in the Canadian mining sector, and Greater Sudbury is at the front lines. What happens here in the next few months will re-define the Canadian mining industry and this community for, the next century.

Mayor Courtemanche, Greater Sudbury (June, 2006)

Over the past year, the global business media and Canadians have been captivated by one of the most expensive and bitter takeover battles in the history of world mining. Falconbridge Limited has been taken over by Swiss-based Xstrata PLC and, while the final ownership of lnco Limited has yet to be decided, these events will permanently change the course and ownership of the country’s resource sector.

We are also witnessing one of the largest economic transformations in the history of mankind. China, India and many other developing countries are rapidly urbanizing and industrializing their societies, and mineral commodities and mining expertise are an essential part of this change. The world is entering the start of commodity super-cycle that will last for decades and create enormous prosperity.

Our community has an enormous stake in the outcome of this international bidding war. Our stake is over 100 years of mining behind us, billions of dollars of ore beneath us, and enormous opportunities in front of us. Greater Sudbury is the historic heart and soul of the global nickel industry. Most geologists and mine industry experts agree that there is still another hundred years of life to this enormous trillion dollar mining camp.

Greater Sudbury is home to one of the greatest mining camps that the world has ever known. The Sudbury Basin is the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most significant globally. In a world full of geo-political uncertainty, Sudbury’s strategic nickel resources ensure a secure environment for the billions of dollars needed to increase production. Nickel has become the metallic version of oil.

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Digging Through the Sudbury Soils Study – By Bill Bradley

Copper Cliff Roast Yards - CGS Libraries and Museums Historical DatabaseNorthern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

A Primer on the Study, the Process and the Players Involved

(First instalment of a four-part series)

There is some excellent information on the history of mining activities in the Sudbury area in the first background study of the Sudbury Soil Study finished in January 2008, that can be downloaded at their website. Visit Sudbury Soils Study. Copies for public viewing are available at public libraries and post-secondary institutions.

Here are some highlights and quotes from the study that indicate the extent of the devastation of the Sudbury area:

  • Roasting yards were an early method of separating valuable minerals from rock. The first roast yard, where crushed ore from pits was piled on beds of cordwood, was built in Dec. 1886. Between 1890 and 1930, 28 million tonnes of ore was smelted primarily in the open. After 1920, ore was mechanically smelted indoors. Until the process stopped in 1929, “they released about 10 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide at ground level, killing plants and acidifying soils…open-bed roasting was a cheap but ultimately inefficient method, as it allowed some of the nickel and copper to be washed into the soil by rains.” In 1916 one former resident of the community near the O’Donnell roast yard said there were days when “I could not see my hand in front of my face.”
  • The wartime surge in nickel production in 1916, “increased the volume of noxious gases that wafted from the roast beds into the gardens and fields of the Sudbury basin.” Agriculture in the Blezard Valley was being smothered by the 600,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emitted annually by the nickel companies. “In 1916, after successive years of ruined crops, the farmers had had enough, forcing Canadian Copper to pay $137,398 for smoke damages in the year ending March 31, 1916.”
  • As the landscape deteriorated around the smelters, effects of emissions could no longer be ignored. Early studies dealt with sulphur dioxide emissions. “Not until the late 1960s did the focus expand to include metal contamination and acidification of the soils. At that time, studies by local foresters and ecologists showed that soil acidity and concentrations of copper and nickel were elevated in the same areas where sulphur dioxide damage had been measured.”

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A Refined Argument: Report of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues – Produced by the City of Greater Sudbury

(Following from Feb/27/2008 City of Greater Sudbury News Release)

In March 2006, the City of Greater Sudbury set up a ten-member Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues chaired by former Inco vice-president José Blanco. The resulting 64-page report, released in February, 2008, called on Council to, ‘invite the Province of Ontario to enter into negotiations with the city to establish a resource revenue-sharing framework that will ensure a predictable and sustainable revenue stream for the municipality.”

The panel notes that in 1970, major mining companies accounted for about a quarter of local property taxes. By 2005, the mining companies’ share of municipal property tax levies had fallen to just 6.5 per cent.

‘This is a very complex, multi-layered story in which there are no bad guys,” said panel chair José Blanco.

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Executive Summary – A Refined Argument: Report of the Advisory Panel on Municipal Mining Revenues – Produced by the City of Greater Sudbury

The Sudbury Basin is arguably the most valuable geologic structure in the world. For more than one hundred years, dozens of mines have operated around the rim of this ancient meteor crater, extracting millions of pounds of nickel, copper and cobalt as well as million of ounces of gold, platinum and palladium.

The sales of these metals have realized tens of billions of dollars in profit for mining companies and billions of dollars in taxes for the Federal and Provincial Governments. The mining activities in the Sudbury Basin have in large measure driven the development of the progressive urban center that is the City of Greater Sudbury.

Local municipal government in the Sudbury area has gradually grown to match the geographic extent of the basin. As dictated by the Ontario government in 1973 and again in 2001, the disparate assembly of communities that had developed around the mine sites has been consolidated into Ontario’s largest municipality, covering a staggering 3,200 square kilometers.

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Ottawa, Ontario Must Support Sudbury Basin’s Trillion Dollar Resource – Greater Sudbury Mayor John Rodriguez

Greater Sudbury Mayor - John RodriguezLast month, we celebrated Mining Week in Greater Sudbury, an annual event designed to promote the importance of the mining and processing industry to the community at large.  This event is useful and appropriate but we need to remind ourselves every week about the role that mining and processing plays in our local economy and the role that our city plays in this vital global industry.

The people of this community can take great pride in the successes of the economic diversification strategies that were launched a quarter century ago.  The dreams of the 1970s and 1980s are now reality and we are a significant government services centre, an award-winning tourism destination, a centre for education and health, and the leading service and retail centre in Northern Ontario.

At the same time, however, our mining, processing and mining supply and services sectors are driving the city’s economy to new heights and creating significant wealth for our province and for Canada as a whole.  As a city, it is critical that we understand and support this vital industry and that we develop strategies to ensure that we remain competitive on a global basis, well into the future.

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