In “Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage,” the federal government pledges to “support large-scale research and commercialization centres in areas where Canadians have the potential to achieve world-class excellence.”
Canada’s mining industry is a natural candidate for the support the government has pledged. We are world leaders in mining finance, exploration technology, shaft sinking, mine development and mining education. Our junior mining companies, engineers and geologists are applying their expertise on every continent, and more and more of our suppliers are breaking into export markets.
In Sudbury, we have a technology centre supported provincially and by the private sector that is dedicated to assisting the small and medium-sized companies in the region to sharpen their technological edge and develop the products and solutions the mining industry requires. We also have the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) and the Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO) at Laurentian University.
If the strategy is to back a winner, the mining industry qualifies in spades, and the Sudbury cluster stands out as its geographical heart.
The Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay triangle lives and breaths mining. The region boasts a critical mass of miners, engineers, suppliers, geologists, academics, researchers and civil servants. Together, they comprise a huge knowledge base. They are next-door neighbours. Their kids play on the same hockey teams and they stand in line at the same Tim Horton’s. There’s a lot to be said for a geographic concentration of focused brainpower.
Backing a winner makes a lot of sense, just as investing in a mine with a great orebody makes sense. Why would anyone not do so?
We have a lot going for ourselves, but we can do better. Our suppliers, for example, are increasingly comfortable on the global stage, but there are many who can do even better with marketing and product development assistance. Mining companies globally need new technologies and solutions to improve productivity, reduce energy costs and mine safely at depth. Carrying out this research in a mining environment where new products or processes can be tested and refined, then commercialized in partnership with one of the hundreds of suppliers in the region, is a no brainer.
It’s no surprise that Darryl Lake, profiled for our cover story this issue, is beating the same drum. Putting the Maple Leaf in Mining will create high value jobs, drive exports and leverage the success the industry has already achieved.