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Sudbury Mining Solutions


Mining cluster comes of age

December 1, 2014
by Dick DeStefano
In: Commentary, Dick DeStefano
Dick DeStefano, Executive Director, SAMSSA.

Dick DeStefano, Executive Director, SAMSSA.

It is quite evident that the Northern Ontario mining cluster has developed as a “mature cluster” based on studies by major agencies and institutions that study this concept.

SAMSSA is 11 years old and is now one of the most sophisticated mining supply clusters globally because it continually meets all the established criteria. In many cases, it goes beyond the standard definitions.

What is unique is that the model operating in Northern Ontario has four dynamic pillars working in partnership that make it viable and distinct.

It all began in 1991 when Paul Krugman combined Alfred Marshall’s work of 1890 with Michael Porter’s of 1990, a work which popularized his manifesto called The Competitive Advantage of Nations. The concept of cluster development has a long history.

SAMSSA took the best parts and implemented its own design.

The distinctiveness of SAMSSA is the four pillars that hold it together. The first pillar is the historical presence of mines that extract, mill and refine ore. The mineral wealth of the Sudbury Basin along with the gold fields in Timmins has proven to be an asset in the global market.

The second cohesive part or pillar is the existence of over 500 mining supply and service companies within the boundaries of Northern Ontario. These companies in proximity to the main extractive mining activity provide an abundance of products and services focused on increasing productivity and efficiencies. The recent global exporting surge by member companies in SAMSSA further expands the horizons of the region’s mining supply and service companies.

The third pillar is the educational programming that reflects the need for future skill development. The existence of Cambrian College, Canadore College, College Boreal and Laurentian University with over 75 mining related programs adds value to the cluster.

The fourth pillar is the body of mining research institutions and agencies that are prevalent in the region. The Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) is gaining global recognition for its research in deep mining. MIRARCO is well known for geomechanics, hazard assessment and risk mitigation, visualization and optimization, mining safety research, sustainability and climate change adaptation.

NORCAT has become a centre of mining training, innovation and incubation. The recent addition of the Goodman School of Mines at Laurentian University provides innovative speakers and research that will impact the future of mining.

Recent studies on Scandinavian countries conducted by Tendensor Cluster Brands entitled Cluster Branding & Marketing – A Handbook on Cluster Brand Management provides some major insights on clusters.

One of the key messages is that most clusters fail to differentiate themselves clearly in the marketplace. SAMSSA has made every effort to establish its uniqueness with these four pillars of activity and its focus on underground mining.

One of the benefits of a mature cluster is that it attracts young entrepreneurial talent who want to be located in a centre where multiple opportunities exist.

A second benefit from the global perspective in the mining industry is finding a concentration of companies in one location that can solve problems as they occur. Northern Ontario has a special skill set available in underground mining that makes it attractive.

The third benefit is the ability of a company to export its products globally and understand the culture they will be working in. SAMSSA members have been building this capacity in the past few years very aggressively with a great deal of success.

SAMSSA is proud of its accomplishments and the companies it represents. This mining cluster is growing its level of expertise.

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About Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano is Executive Director of SAMSSA [email protected]

View all articles by Dick DeStefano →

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