VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – The Ontario government on Tuesday announced that it would invest C$2.5-million in the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation's (CEMI's) ongoing work with the Ultra Deep Mining Network (UDMN), which is helping the mining sector develop and adopt commercially viable innovations.
Part of a five-year initiative first started in 2014, the programme has created nearly 30 jobs in Northern Ontario to date.
The province, in partnership with the federal government, is supporting this research initiative by CEMI and UDMN, which will help mining companies and organisations develop technologies to enhance the safety, efficiency and sustainability of their operations.
Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle made the announcement during the Mining Innovation Summit 2016, hosted by Ontario in Sudbury.
“Today’s Mining Innovation Summit and our investment in CEMI are proof Ontario is committed to supporting the future of the mining sector and ensuring that we are the global leader in sustainable mineral development. Our government is pleased to partner with CEMI as it leads the way to ensure ultradeep mines operate more effectively and safely, generate more value, improve the human environment and enhance mine productivity,” he stated.
With some of North America’s great mining thought leaders in the room, the Ministry spoke with industry participants about opportunities and barriers for the adoption of innovative technologies; taking new concepts to commercialisation; highlighting the new materials and niche commodities, such as lithium or graphite and their applications; and providing special focus on opportunities to enhance relationships and economic development strategies between indigenous people, industry and government.
In an exclusive statement to Mining Weekly Online, Gravelle highlighted Ontario’s exploration industry as being the foundation of its robust mineral development industry.
Ontario led Canada in mining exploration spending last year with more than C$390-million in expenditures, nearly one-quarter of the country’s total.
“Our government is committed to maintaining Ontario’s place as a top destination for investment. In 2016, guided by Ontario’s renewed ‘Mineral Development Strategy’, our government introduced the ‘Junior Exploration Assistance Programme’, which is supporting junior exploration companies and providing training for new and potential prospectors. We have made a C$5-million investment, through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, to support the programme," said Gravelle.
He pointed to the provincial government’s introduction earlier this year of a renewed Mineral Development Strategy that is Ontario’s blueprint for the mining sector’s growth over the next decade.
The Mineral Development Strategy has four strategic priorities. These include being competitive and innovative by attracting jobs and investment, increasing mineral discovery rates and fostering a culture of innovation; being safe and environmentally responsible by enhancing worker health and safety, and protecting the environment for future generations; being efficiently and effectively regulated by clarifying Aboriginal consultation requirements and improving online claim registration and the permits and approvals process; and providing growth and prosperity for future generations by enhancing Aboriginal voices and establishing the necessary socioeconomic conditions to develop the workforce of tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Gravelle noted that “significant progress" had been made regarding the development of what had been termed a “generational opportunity” by the federal government – the emerging nickel and chromite mining camp known as the Ring of Fire (RoF), in the James Bay lowlands of Northern Ontario.
He pointed to the historic Regional Framework Agreement guiding the Ministry’s work with the nine Matawa-member First Nations communities. Ontario has committed C$1-billion towards the development of strategic infrastructure in the RoF, which was reiterated in the 2016 Budget.
Further, government has approved, with amendments, the terms of reference for an environmental assessment for regional first-mover Noront Resources’ Eagle’s Nest project.
Critically, Gravelle noted that transportation to the remote region was necessary to move the project forward. For that reason, in addition to its C$1-billion commitment, the provincial government has established the RoF Infrastructure Development Corporation (ROFIDC).
“The development of the RoF, including a transportation corridor, is a complex undertaking and we are taking the time to get it right. The ROFIDC is undertaking a technical review of industrial infrastructure options. This review will help inform key investment decisions regarding transportation infrastructure in the RoF,” Gravelle stated to Mining Weekly Online.
He added that the provincial government was working closely with key partners to lay important groundwork “to drive smart, sustainable and collaborative development in the region”.
“Ontario is building up the Northern economy and leading a provincial minerals sector that is healthy, competitive and sustainable. Our Mineral Development Strategy is positioning Ontario to be the global mining leader,” Gravelle said.