QUEEN’S PARK – Today, I’m honoured to be joining the Ontario Mining Association as we host Meet the Miners Day at Queen’s Park. Meet the Miners Day, as I think many of you will know, is an annual tradition dating back more than 25 years that gives members of the Legislature and senior mining executives the opportunity to exchange ideas to help continue to build a healthy mining sector.
This year’s theme is “Mining Builds Communities,” something our province has excelled at by working with the mining industry to strengthen the economies of diverse communities across the province. Our government has worked very hard to advance our province’s standing as a preferred jurisdiction for mineral development. We’re working very hard to ensure that mining remains an important contributor to the provincial economy.
Here are some of the facts: Ontario is among the top-10 mineral investment jurisdictions in the world. As a result, 24 new mines have opened here over the last 10 years. That’s more than anywhere else in Canada. There are some notable examples. I could go on, but certainly we think of the De Beers Canada’s Victor diamond mine, Ontario’s diamond mine near Attawapiskat; the extraordinary Detour Gold project near Cochrane, one of the greatest gold deposits in North America; and the AuRico Gold Young-Davidson mine near Matachewan as well comes to mind—great examples of projects that are creating extraordinary employment.
The fact is that currently Ontario is home to 41 operational mines with a total mineral production valued at an incredible $9.2 billion last year. I think many will recall that in 2011, our government pledged to support the opening of eight new mines over the next 10 years. I am certainly very pleased to report that four new mines have already opened since then. With an additional six new mining and mine expansion projects in Ontario expected to be operational by 2017, the future continues to look very, very bright.
Our government’s record on mining is a very strong one. Let’s go back to 2003. Exploration expenditures in the province of Ontario were $193 million, and that was an impressive figure at the time, perhaps. But in 2012, we reached over the $900-million mark, which simply says that we are the leading jurisdiction in Canada for exploration.
In terms of mineral production itself, I referenced it earlier, but the value of mineral production in 2003 was $5.7 billion. In 2012, we reached $9.2 billion. Again, Ontario is the top province in Canada for mineral production. More activity at our metal mines has increased the total number of direct jobs in mineral production from 24,000 in 2003 to 27,000 in 2012. And there are an additional 50,000 jobs associated with the manufacturing and the processing of mineral products.
Exciting discoveries in the Ring of Fire area in northern Ontario hold the promise of being Canada’s first world-class chromite deposit, with strong potential as well for nickel, copper, zinc, gold and other minerals. Certainly, in consultation with First Nations and the companies that are involved with these projects, as well as undergoing the necessary approvals, we look forward to unlocking the potential of this region and creating thousands of jobs for Ontarians.
Our government continues to work very hard to maintain a superior investment climate for the mining industry and especially, may I say, for communities in the north.
In accordance with our Mineral Development Strategy, which we brought forward in 2006, the Ontario government is committed to advancing mineral development for the benefit of all Ontarians. This includes working in consultation with stakeholders to modernize elements of our Mining Act to promote sustainable mineral activity that respects the environment, aboriginal and treaty rights, communities and individuals, and brings clarity and certainty for the industry, something they are always calling for. It also involves providing a tax regime that supports a dynamic and innovative business climate that will help mineral development companies succeed, as well as attract more investment and opportunities to Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, our work is absolutely paying off. We have in place a number of government initiatives, one of the most significant ones being the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program, that have helped mining companies in northern Ontario reduce their electricity costs, sustain jobs and maintain their global competitiveness—very vital aspects. There are currently seven mining companies in the province representing 13 facilities that participate in that program, which is helping to support a thriving mining sector in Ontario.
Speaker, we are also working to implement the Mining Act modernization process that began with the passage of the modernized Mining Act in 2009. We brought a 100-year-old piece of legislation into the 21st century by introducing rules and structures that will improve how exploration activities are carried out in the province.
Modernization of the Mining Act and the supporting regulations very much is the result of very comprehensive consultations. Between January 2010 and January 2012, two years, over 70 discussions and consultations were undertaken with aboriginal groups and communities, industry stakeholders, environmental organizations, and municipal representatives.
Currently, Speaker, we are in phase 3, and we are proposing to make changes to the Mining Act that will allow us to implement online staking.
We have also very strongly supported the Strategic One-on-One Export Marketing Program, a training initiative that helps companies develop sound strategies to gain access to new global markets. To date, 53 companies have graduated from that program, and their innovative products and services from Ontario are finding their way around the world. I had an opportunity to be at one of the graduation ceremonies, and it was remarkable how excited they all were. These were major companies that were involved in this process.
Measures like these promote long-term sustainability and global competitiveness in Ontario. Our work in advancing mining reflects our government’s very strong commitment to supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate that will help companies succeed while also drawing investment and opportunities to Ontario.
Speaker, Meet the Miners is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Ontario’s thriving mining sector and also to learn how this remarkable industry, led by so many remarkable people, contributes to Ontario’s prosperity. Certainly, I do want to invite all members to join us this evening at the Meet the Miners reception in rooms 228 and 230, I think starting sometime after 5 o’clock. I can assure you that you will meet some amazing Ontarians.
On behalf of our ministry, I want to say to everybody who is here today how much I am looking forward to continuing working with all stakeholders to make Canada’s greatest mining jurisdiction even greater.
Minister Michael Gravelle MPP
Thunder Bay Superior North